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Did Amazon Just Fork The Android Operating System?

Did Amazon just fork the Android operating system with their Kindle Fire? That's the question asked at Mashable today in a post "Amazon Kindle Fire Just Hijacked Android where it was noted that all the promotion around the Kindle Fire did not mention Android. The key piece to me is this:

Amazon is not the first company to use Android for its devices, only to customize the UI and add its own App Store...

Still, Amazon’s customization of Android goes above and beyond re-theming the interface. Amazon has created its own apps for email, video playback (using Amazon Instant Video), music and books...

Amazon is using Android 2.3 as its base, not the tablet-specific Honeycomb, and we expect that the company has taken the opportunity to optimize 2.3 specifically for the Kindle Fire’s hardware.

Likewise, instead of applying tweaks to the basic Android web browser, Amazon chose to build its own: Amazon Silk...

The tragedy here is that the Amazon Kindle Fire will undoubtedly be a very popular device. At $199, I can see many people picking these devices up.

And it could be a great opportunity to bolster the Android ecosystem.

To encourage and nurture a further competitive marketplace for apps.

But the challenge is stated well in the Mashable piece:

We expect Amazon to start courting Android developers to make customized Kindle Fire-specific versions of their apps.

It's not an Android device... it's an Amazon device. And though it may use Android as a base, it has a highly customized layer on top.

Do we now have effectively yet another application ecosystem?

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