Amazon Phone? Facebook Phone? We’ve heard all the rumors, but we have yet to see the drastically forked Android smartphones they describe. There has been the INQ Cloud series and HTC Salsa and ChaCha, but those were basically standard Android experiences with glorified social integration. The Kindle Fire has demonstrated Amazon’s ability to create an Android tablet that differs drastically in appearance and ecosystem from all others, but a smartphone it is not. One thing the Kindle Fire has done is proven to manufacturers that launching an Android product without the final approval of Google can be a worthwhile endeavor.
Skyhook Wireless CEO Ted Morgan recently revealed to Technology Review that Android manufacturers are starting to sour on Google’s control over Android and looking to Amazon as a model of how to successfully cut ties with the big G. Morgan should know a thing or two about Google’s power over handset makers after the tech giant forced OEMs to use their own location technology in place of that developed by Skyhook. Skyhook, which earns its keep thanks to technology that uses nearby WiFi networks to help better pinpoint a user’s location, took Google to court over the whole ordeal.
That chip on the shoulder comes along with the revelation that Skyhook technology will be implemented in a “major” handset release that bucks the Google Experience in favor of a more unique Android device. Morgan provided no clues as to who would make the handset, but Amazon and Facebook are obvious possibilities. Amazon is hard at work on future Kindle Fire models and could very well be using the platform as the starting point for a mobile phone. Facebook has been pumping tons of money into R&D, and as The Verge points out has very little to show coming out the end.
The introduction of such a device, if it proves as popular as the Kindle Fire, will be a further roadblock in Google’s attempts to eliminate Android fragmentation and develop a standard implementation of their mobile OS. Though fragmentation has long been named as a huge problem for the ecosystem, the fight to end it is starting to look like one Google can’t win.