Expect More Companies to Serve Up Forked Android Devices

Published on April 6, 2012
by John Paczkowski

Now that Amazon has proven with its Kindle Fire that a non-Google Android device can succeed at market, other companies are lining up to follow its lead. Indeed, word on the street is that we’ll see a major smartphone released before the end of the year running a modified version of Android not sanctioned by Google.

And according to Ted Morgan, CEO of Skyhook Wireless*, a company that provides geolocation services for mobile devices, this is a developing trend.

“I’m spending a lot of time with companies forking Android,” Morgan told MIT’s Technology Review. “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.”

Just which manufacturers those might be, Morgan wouldn’t say. Could be anyone. Amazon with a Fire-phone. Facebook with Buffy, a phone designed to run a modified version of Android that’s been tweaked to integrate its social network. Or another company entirely.

Said Morgan, “Everyone’s emboldened by the success of Amazon. Everyone’s saying, ‘We need to go our own way.'”

*Caveat: Skyhook sued Google in 2010, alleging, among other things, that the company forced Motorola to drop Skyhook’s mapping technology for its own. So Morgan’s rather pointed comments about the relationships Google has with its Android partners should be considered with that in mind.

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