Will Xiaomi Disrupt Google’s Android?

[Will Xiaomi Disrupt Google’s Android?→](http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2015/1/18/why-do-we-care-about-xiaomi)

I don’t know, but as Benedict Evans points out, we can only ask the question because they’re building the service infrastructure and experience to do so whike serving China:

Historically, Google’s lock on Android outside China has therefore been based on three things: 

* You can’t experiment outside very tight constraints: making even one forked device means Google won’t allow you to sell a single phone running Google services. And all the OEMs have too much to lose to risk experimenting
There’s a widespread belief that an Android device without Google services (really, this means Maps and the app store) is unsaleable outside China (I’m not entirely sure about this, as I wrote here)
* No OEM managed to build a compelling set of services or tools of its own that might offer alternatives to Google, because, well, that was impossible (see above)

These new trends place all of those in question. The growth of smaller operators pursuing different models, with no existing base of sales and hence nothing to fear from  Google ban, may mean more experiments with forks. Xiaomi and its imitators point to a new potential model to differentiate (and note that Xiaomi is not a fork), and Cyanogen (an a16z portfolio company) offers the tools to do it. Smaller OEMs are less powerful than Samsung as a counterpart to Google, but also harder collectively to impose upon – Google can’t shout at them all. This isn’t to say that I necessarily expect to there to be lots of local attempts at the Kindle Fire, but we may start seeing a lot less uniformity in how Android comes to market, and what it looks like.