Critics of Google’s Android mobile OS have always been vocal about the f-word– fragmentation. From its inception Android has fallen victim to Google’s soft stance to Android versions and it has been common to see at least three or four versions in the market at any given time.
Last week details emerged about Amazon’s upcoming Kindle Tablet that will run a totally different OS using the Android kernel but little else. Then China’s Baidu announced it will produce its own mobile OS using at its core, you guessed it, Android. There will soon be more versions and derivatives of Android than you can shake a smartphone at.
The Chinese smartphone market is huge, and Baidu is already a major player in China. The move to produce its own mobile OS, Baidu Yi, is solid as the company already has major services in place to leverage with the platform such as mapping, an ebook reader, a Google Places alternative, and a music service. Using a fork of Android at its core obviously gives Baidu a leg up on the creation of its own OS, while allowing it to control the platform it creates on top of it.
There must be something to this approach with two big players now adopting the “Android as the base, our own code as the differentiator” method. Amazon and Baidu are huge in their respective markets, and they are soon going to be known for having their own OS, at Google’s expense. The “open” Android system has a big chink in its armor, and these companies are taking advantage of it. With Android continuing to slurp up the smartphone market, both of these new efforts will be directly competing with Google, and have a good shot at doing so in a big way.