|Microsoft To Invest In CyanogenMod
|Written by Mike James
|Friday, 30 January 2015
CyanogenMod is the strangely named company that has just raised $70 million in funding from Microsoft. What does CyanogenMod do? It makes alternative versions of Android.
CyanogenMod is one of the companies that provides alternative versions of the Android operating system. Until quite recently, it mostly got the attention of users wanting upgrades on devices that the manufacture had abandoned. If you had an old device that wasn't going to get the next version of Android, you could search CyanogenMod's site to see if its teams of dedicated open source developers had ported a copy. It also offers features not in the standard Android - and of course it comes without the "crapware" that is usually installed by carriers.
For example, currently you can get CyanogenMod 10 (Android 4.1), 10.1 (Android 4.2), 10.2 (Android 4.3) and 11 (Android 4.4). There are also stable, release candidate and experimental versions. The core work is done by CyanogenMod programmers, about 80 of them, but the majority of device customization is performed by enthusiastic volunteers, estimated to be around 9000 strong.
At one level the whole CyanogenMod phenomena is an example of enthusiasts keeping their hardware up-to-date in the face of big companies indifference to older models but recently things have taken a different turn. CyanogenMod seems to have ideas that go well beyond the amateur tinkering. It has started to create custom versions of Android for device manufacturers.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, before the investment was announced, the CEO of CyanogenMod said:
"We're going to take Android away from Google"
Perhaps this is what encouraged Microsoft to invest $70 million in the company. With a total of $100 million in investment it could see CyanogenMod create a real alternative to Google's Android.
Of course Android is open source so the fact that another company can create its own version should come as no surprise. The highest profile example of this is Amazon's own Fire OS.
What do you lose if you drop Google as part of Android?
The simple answer is all of the services that Google provides and the Play store in particular. Other versions of Android attempt to make up for the loss of these services by providing their own app store, mapping software, email and so on.
Microsoft has all of the cloud services needed to create a Microsoft version of Android and why it hasn't is an interesting question. The answer can only be about protecting its current assets. However, given that Microsoft has now released Office, Remote Desktop, Outlook and more, for both iOS and Android, perhaps the protectionist approach is being abandoned.
If CyanogenMod can create a version of Android that is clean and kept up to date then it would be attractive to end users and device manufacturers alike. Add to this mix some sort of support from Microsoft and it looks even better. The big question is, will Microsoft back a non-Google Android and risk having two failed mobile operating systems to its name.
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|Last Updated ( Friday, 30 January 2015 )