Android forks are now 20% of the ecosystem. What is Google's plan?
AOSP making moves
The question remains, though, how Xiaomi will proceed as it expands its reach beyond China. The MIUI app store is populated almost exclusively by apps for the Chinese market and written for Cantonese or Mandarin. There could very well be a push to bring in multilingual apps, or translate existing apps. But, that is a lot of work, and Xiaomi was left with little choice but to join the Android Open Handset Alliance and get access to Google Apps and Play services. That meant reworking its MIUI software to be less of a fork and more of a skin, which could end up being the easier path in the short term. So, now we'll have to see if Xiaomi continues offering Google Play services outside of China, because that would eliminate a large AOSP threat from the world outside of China.
Google Play services brings value to all (and control for Google)
Android One for emerging markets
1. rodneyej1 (Posts: 3534; Member since: 06 Jul 2013)
Wow!... PA really can do a good article on Android... Accurate information, and everything... SMH.
4. jael206 (Posts: 122; Member since: 18 Jul 2012)
You can expect this on almost every Michael H article.
15. jellmoo (Posts: 664; Member since: 31 Oct 2011)
Completely agree. I don't always agree with him, but Michael H "brings it" for each editorial he does.
If only some of the other content creators on this site did the same...
7. Mxyzptlk (Posts: 3462; Member since: 21 Apr 2012)
Umm forked Android is something like the kindle fire. Devices like the galaxy phones are heavily bloated to the rim but they're still Android since the Google services are still there.
2. sprockkets (Posts: 1160; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)
If google cared about forks they'd either stop releasing the source or switch to the GPL.
They don't care.
3. realjjj (Posts: 84; Member since: 28 Jan 2014)
Xiaomi has Google Play outside China.
As for Android One ,this is why it exists and it starts in India, Google is worried India will go like China did and they lose another huge market.There is no need for Android One , the public reasons are just not valid,it's just Google trying to keep controll of things.
5. GreekGeek (Posts: 746; Member since: 22 Mar 2014)
The Stats are definitely misleading (and most probably WRONG) regarding forked Androids
take Xiaomi for example, I believe that the vast MAJORITY of MIUI's out there (be it ROMS on top of another OEM or Xiaomi devices) have Google Apps/Services installed in them.
One CANNOT simply assume that people who own these forked Androids rely purely on a third party App market.
It's just plain idiotic.
23. MySchizoBuddy (Posts: 49; Member since: 23 Aug 2011)
read the article. it clearly says that Google play store is only included outside of china. within china it uses MIUI's own store.
6. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3197; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)
Correct me, if I'm wrong. play store is banned in China, that's the reason xiaomi uses MIUI fork, right?
8. 0xFFFF (Posts: 2959; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)
Apps bring value to the Android customer. Google Play offers apps, but also is riddled with always on/always copying spyware. So there is negative value as well.
Android as a platform would be better off with a neutral app store where people can download vetted apps without Google being part of the process.
10. magnus (Posts: 4; Member since: 25 Feb 2014)
Googles services are not allowed to China on Android. China will probably be the the only market with an Android fork in the future. It's very hard to compete with Google without all the services they offer since they offer it for free and a company that want to compete with that needs to put in a lot of money.
On the other hand Google cannot compete in China by law so there is nothing they can do in that market.
11. michaelmicro (unregistered)
It's interesting that Google develop a platform under the guise of being 'open source' and free for all, then give themselves a massive advantage by closing off key aspects of the Android experience. I find it a very immoral way to do business, which is a big part of why I predominently chose not to use any of Google's services.
12. Awalker (Posts: 276; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)
The only key aspect missing is the Play Store and there's alternatives to that although not so good.
14. magnanimus (Posts: 287; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)
What key aspects -_-? The AOSP can be completely transformed and morphed into whatever form the user wishes. Have you seen Amazon kindles, Nokia X, and Xiomi phones?? Tired of people spewing random BS just to convince themselves
16. michaelmicro (unregistered)
Key aspects such as the Google Play Store, or Google Play Services etc.
You can't make forked devices and Android devices at the same time; you have to either submit to Google's terms, or exclusively make devices that have no access to Google services. For a company advocating open source software, I find they do a very poor job of making things open source.
Google would be a much more admirable and respectable company if they either a) made no pretences about the fact that they are very much closed (like Apple) or b) blow the 'open source' trumpet and actually make their stuff open source, instead of just the bits that suit them.
17. magnanimus (Posts: 287; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)
My God, Google making android free and open source isn't enough? You do realise Google play services are what the company actually makes profit from. Making it free doesn't make much sense does it?
Think of Google as putting the playing field out there (android) and whoever makes better services wins. So if you can't make a better service, you'll have to pay for the one Google has made cuz they put much thought into making it the best. FYI they develop AOSP for no cost and I think they've done enough just for that.
18. michaelmicro (unregistered)
No I don't think it's enough. All the stuff that people want is in the layer that Google doesn't make open source, and if they were true to Android's open source roots, they'd make those bits open source too.
It's the fact that they close some bits of the experience off after shouting from the rooftops about Android being open source that I find distasetful and immoral. Either make the whole thing open source, or close the whole thing off.
19. magnanimus (Posts: 287; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)
The thing is if google makes its services open source, anyone can use any aspect of its services. No matter how much Google improves it service, any manufacturer (even Apple) could "steal" those improvements and further improve it with little or no repercussions. Unless you want Google out of business, this is the best strategy.
Consider it as Google's plan of not doing ALL the work while the manufacturers just sit lazy and reap even more rewards than the maker. At least Xiaomi and other forkers have a free OS to use.
20. michaelmicro (unregistered)
To be honest, I'd rather see other manufacturers develope their own OS and ecosystems from scratch. I'm a proponent of vibrant and innovative markets, not the stagnant market we have now.
22. magnanimus (Posts: 287; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)
I'd very much like to see that :) At this point, the OS trio are just basically copying from each other.
13. RAVEN23 (Posts: 4; Member since: 26 Mar 2014)
guys is it just me or dose the nexus 5 has the highest phone ratings in PA
21. epdm2be (Posts: 164; Member since: 20 Apr 2012)
"There are plenty of users out there who don't want to spend much money, and will take whatever they can get within their budget."
And whom wouldn't buy a "smartphone" at all if those stupid stores would still sell normal (feature-)phones. I've seen a lot of people with Galaxy Ace (and the likes in their hands), whom find Android smartphones too difficult to use and don't realize that they have a smartphone with more capabilities then simple calls and texts.
"This means all hardware has to be updated to the newest version of Android that is released within 18 months of said hardware; and, newly released hardware must be running one of the newer versions of Android when it launches, if the manufacturer wants to include Google's layer. "
Yet there are still big discrepancies with branded devices. While most AOSP device are equally running a 4.2-like jelly bean and are therefore easier to update/maintain. So who's fooling who?
"For users, if you are choosing Android, there is a higher probability that you are a fan of Google's services anyway. "
Users don't choose.
Stores and telcos (and occasionally manufacturers themselves) make the choices for us. They decide which devices are available at the local markets. Sure a few brave users order devices from around the globe but that's just a tiny minority.
"it creates a valuable lock-in mechanism for Google."
That's the core of it. Each and everyone wants a lock-in. Samsung does it with their store and complementary services and Google does it with their "services". Which for the majority is just that Play Store and Google Maps.
Personally I couldn't care less what OS my phone runs. As long as it does what I want it to do. And right now none of Android, IOS and WP-devices cut the cake! I'm stuck on Symbian hardware for the foreseeable future. And seeing how fugly the new iterations of IOS and Android are becoming it seems that 4.1.2 (SGS3) upto 4.4 will be my last foray into Android.