Google's Big Headache: Android Forks Hit 20 Percent Marketshare

Google's Big Headache: Android Forks Hit 20 Percent Marketshare

Android continues to grow at a tremendous rate, and in terms of global market share, it is definitely the dominant platform today. However, much of this growth is taking place in countries like India and China, and in these countries, you're seeing a lot of people who are using customised versions of the Android OS, "forked" off from the main path of Android.

The most famous forked devices are probably Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet and the recently-launched Fire phone, which come with their own app store and other unique features. This means no Google Play, and no revenues from apps for Google, and most Chinese smartphones also launch without Google Play, and instead come with their own third-party app stores. This is partly because Google Play doesn't allow paid apps to be sold in China, but also, localisation of content and local language content is a big driver for growth in China.

According to a report released on Sunday by ABI Research, a market research and intelligence firm based in New York, in the second quarter of 2014 (ending June), forked Android has grown 20 percent quarter-on-quarter, driven by Chinese handsets. Other Android phones are growing at a relatively slower rate - 13 percent.

Not only has the forked Android segment grown by 20 percent, but according to ABI, it also accounts for 20 percent of the market - in other words, one in five smartphones does not have Google Play on it.

"AOSP's growth is driven by the development of Chinese and Indian handset manufacturers, not only in their domestic markets, but increasingly throughout Asia and beyond," said Nick Spencer, senior practice director, mobile devices, ABI Research.

"Chinese and Indian vendors accounted for the majority of smartphone shipments for the first time with 51 percent share. While many of these manufacturers are low cost, some are making inroads in the mid-tier, including Xiaomi and Gionee, hence the growing challenge to Samsung in particular," added Spencer.

Samsung has been facing increasing pressure in both India where it was recently overtaken as the top phone vendor by Micromax and in China, where it was overtaken as the top smartphone vendor by Xiaomi.


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Further reading: AOSP, Android, Forked Android, Gionee, OHA, Xiaomi
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