It is not a secret that Cyanogen is seeking greater control over Android. The company develops its own open source version of Google’s mobile operating system, and is reportedly targeting big-name investors as it looks to increase its independence.
Cyanogen have been open about their rather ambitious strategy. CEO Kirt McMaster has stated recently that the company is hoping to sideline Google and take control of Android.
“We’re going to take Android away from Google,” McMaster stated.
McMaster’s comment is astonishing, given that Cyanogen remains a relatively small operation.
One of McMaster’s key strengths, however, is the fact that Cyanogen’s software is well-regarded and widely used. On this basis, it is believed that Cyanogen is targeting investment from large tech companies.
A number of names have been linked with Cyanogen, including Amazon and Samsung. Although in recent days there has been growing speculation that it will be Microsoft who contributes to Cyanogen’s next round of funding.
Amazon currently has its own Android-based OS. Fire OS is already a reasonably well-developed platform and has been heavily customised to provide digital content and online shopping.
It is therefore not really clear how Cyanogen OS would be a better solution than Fire OS, as far as Amazon’s requirements are concerned.
There is a better case to be made for the likes of Samsung acquiring a stake in Cyanogen.
If companies want to make use of Google’s services, such as the Play Store, there are a number of conditions they must agree to.
Companies such as Samsung, which include Google services on their Android devices, have to place apps in specific, prominent locations. They are also not allowed to chose which services to include, and have to provide everything stipulated by Google.
The conditions mean that device makers likes Samsung are effectively limited in how they can generate revenue through their own products. Although companies are able to include their own rival services, these will typically lack the familiarity and prominence of Google’s offerings.
Backing Cyanogen would be a big risk for Samsung, however. The South Korean tech company is heavily reliant on both Android and Google services and is unlikely to want to take a position that could be viewed as hostile by the search engine giant.
Although Microsoft is committed to developing Windows 10 for smartphones, it is easy to see why the company could be a good fit as a Cyanogen investor.
For Microsoft, Cyanogen could be a cost-effective back-up plan. Should Windows 10 fail to help Microsoft increase its smartphone market share, then Cyanogen OS could be a useful platform for Microsoft services.
Any investment in Cyanogen also has the potential to destabilise Google – a fact that is unlikely to have been lost on Microsoft.
With increased funding, Cyanogen would be in a better position to wrestle control of Android away from Google.
Although it must be noted, even with an investment from Microsoft, as a relatively small operation, Cyanogen would find competing directly with a giant like Google extremely tough.