An unnamed mobile industry source told Business Insider that Google's decision to purchase Motorola was a big "F-U" to its Android partners. The source also gave insight as to why Google is stepping up to create its own Nexus-branded tablet, painting the picture of a demanding dictator and partners reluctant to take further orders from their Android commander.
The theme for 2012, according to the source, will be "forking." That's what Amazon did with the Kindle Fire by taking the base OS and layering on its own features, thus providing an Amazon experience. Barnes & Noble did the same with its Nook tablets as well as a few others, and they won't be the last. This will become rampant this year, especially on the Chinese market.
On the handset side, manufacturers are sick of Google even though the OS is served up free. They no longer wish to be dictated to harshly, and are thus jumping the Android ship and developing their own mobile operating systems. This will help distinguish their products from other manufacturers which right now isn't the case thanks to Android's consistent appearance across the board.
But Google plans to push on with Android, offering its own Google Experience tablet later this year, as the company currently believes the Android tablet market is broken. This device will reportedly be built by Asus, followed by a more official version churned out by Motorola once the acquisition is final (still waiting on China's approval).
Current partners see this Google-Motorola marriage as a potential threat, that they will be treated like second rate customers. Because of this, they're accelerating their plans to produce proprietary products. Handset makers reportedly laugh at the thought that Google will keep Motorola at an arm's length. They even see the acquisition as a big "F-U" to everyone.
That said, until handset manufacturers produce their own OS, they will continue to use Android, but alter the software to make it more proprietary as Amazon did. Honestly, Amazon merely threw on a custom launcher, but left the option open for users to install third-party apps... including launchers to make the tablet more Android-like in appearance.
Google's latest version of Android -- v4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" -- made its debut back in November 2011. As of this writing, the update resides on a mere 2.9-percent of all Android devices. As ZDNet points out, the Android fragmentation is horrendous, spanning v1.5 "Cupcake" on 0.3-percent of the devices to v4.0.3 "ICS" on 2.4-percent. Most of the Android devices on the market use v2.3 to 2.3.7 "Gingerbread" while three separate releases of v3.0 Honeycomb reside on tablets. On a whole, there are no fewer than 11 active versions of Android in the installed user base.
And now smartphone and tablet manufacturers want to create their own flavor of Android, following Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Looks like the fragmented Android market is about to get even messier.