CyanogenMod is the most popular flavor of Android and the company Cyanogen Inc. was formed to commercialize it. According to Cyanogen, its OS has been installed over 12 million times till now.
Although Cyanogen developers have benefitted much from Android, Cyanogen is not happy with Google’s control over Android and its licensing terms. The company’s CEO Kirt McMaster recently said, “We’re attempting to take Android away from Google” and what’s more, Cyanogen has raised enough funds to make it possible.
In a span of only 18 months, Cyanogen Inc. has received more than $110 million in funds. It has collected as much as $80 million in the last round of funding received from big companies such as Twitter Ventures, Telefonica Ventures, Qualcomm, Rupert Murdoch and others. The funds will be utilized to develop another open source operating system platform that will be even better then Android.
Cyanogen hopes to build a mobile OS platform that is independent of Google and the investors feel that CyanogenMod has a good chance of becoming the 3rd biggest platform after Android and iOS.
All Google’s services like Gmail, GooglePlay Google Calender etc. are integrated in Android which is currently the world’s most popular operating system especially in the western world. However in the eastern regions such as Mainland China, Google services aren’t used much because Google has left China due to issues with the government. So, Chinese devices mostly run Android versions based on Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and offer non-Google services. Xiaomi’s MIUI is one such OS. Cyanogen wants to target this market and expand its spread. Of course, Google is also trying to make inroads into China with its Google Play but it is difficult due to other companies such as Tencent, Baidu and Qihoo already in the field.
Another reason why OEMs and mobile carriers are so much interested in promoting Cyanogen is control. When Android was new, Google allowed OEMs and mobile carriers to make changes to the mobile OS as they wanted, but slowly over time, this has led to fragmentation, making it difficult for Google to push OS updates across so many different kinds of devices. Firstly, OEMs and carriers have to agree for the updates and secondly, customizations made by other companies such as Samsung and HTC have also to be added to them. What’s more, Google has also pulled out more and more parts out of the AOSP into its own domain.
“App and chip vendors are very worried about Google controlling the entire experience,” Peter Levine, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a Cyanogen investor, told Forbes. Particularly, the firms that are competing with Google or Apple welcome Cyanogen as a third option to avoid monopoly by these two giants.
Also, Google’s vision about Android may not always be acceptable to its other partners and using a non-Google version of Android allows the manufacturers to use their own versions of UI skins, security patches and bundling of app stores and services. But as customizing the OS by themselves is not possible and affordable for all device makers, they are looking for something like Cyanogen to help them out. Cyanogen has ample Android experience and can customize the OS to run on different kinds of devices.
Micromax, an Indian company, has signed a deal with Cyanogen for pre-installing Cyanogen OS on its premium high-end devices including its new Yureka smartphone. Other companies are expected to join in. Now with new funds, the company can invest in hiring experts to speed up the development process and soon provide a third alternative to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.