For a long time, the mobile development industry has debated whether Android is truly open source. Google’s Andy Rubin once tweeted in response that anyone could fork, or make and distribute a new modified version of, the operating system. Now it appears a growing number of manufacturers are taking Rubin up on his suggestion.
A new report from ABI Research finds that forked versions of Android account for 20 percent of the world smartphone market. In addition, forked Android grew 20 percent between the first and second quarters of this year; by comparison, the entire smartphone market grew just 3 percent. Much of that growth came from Asia—particularly China and India.
The growth of forked Android means more fragmentation for the platform and greater challenges for Android app developers.