Could the days of Android as we know it be numbered? MIT's Technology Review has published an interesting piece that suggests Google's hardware partners want to offer forked versions of the software with their own customizations, much like Amazon did with the Kindle Fire. The publication spoke to Skyhook Wireless CEO Ted Morgan, a man who isn't just witnessing the phenomenon, but also taking an active part in it:
"I'm spending a lot of time with companies forking Android," says Morgan. "Nobody wants to just be a manufacturer for Google. You see that with what Amazon has done, where they made it their own, and you also see a whole host of manufacturers taking Android down their own path."
Morgan adds that device makers "don't want to be just a commodity hardware maker because they'll all lose out to cheaper players in China," so they're hoping to stand out by offering their own software, using Android as a foundation. According to Morgan, we'll see a "'major' new phone device" that follows this formula late this year.
The Android experience already isn't completely homogeneous. Major phone makers like HTC and Samsung distinguish themselves with unique user-interface customizations, and generally, it's rare to see a phone that adopts the default Google look. (Notable exceptions include the Samsung-built Google Galaxy Nexus.) I think further fragmentation would be a step in the wrong direction, though. Few hardware makers have a talent for good software design and elegant user interfaces, and a more fragmented ecosystem might mean more headaches for app developers.