Can Cyanogen make it where bigger companies have failed?

September 20, 2013
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Evan Forester

On this edition of the Friday Debate, we talk about the transformation of the CyanogenMod custom ROM project into Cyanogen Inc, a startup that aims for nothing less than the third place behind Android and iOS.

Many companies have made a business out of open source software, but Steve Kondik and his ragtag team of enthusiasts clearly have their work cut out. Going commercial and securing funding allows the team to fully focus on improving and growing CyanogenMod, and the partnership with Oppo is promising, but is it enough? Can Cyanogen make it as a business?

Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

Robert Triggs

As a long time fan and user of CyanogenMod, the news that the team was going commercial was welcome news to my ears. Although it’s tough to say at this point whether or not the venture will succeed, there’s plenty of interesting implications for Android that will certainly attract a decent following of hard-core Android enthusiasts.

I certainly don’t think that this is a big problem for Google, after all virtually every handset manufacturer tweaks Android and adds features for their own hardware. If anything this is more likely to be a concern for other manufacturers, such as Samsung or HTC, who are often criticised for offering bloated hardware.

I suppose that my only reservation about this venture is that the CyanogenMod ROM could lose some of its open source aspects that made it such a success in the first place. Will new features be made specifically for its own hardware, and how much support with other CyanogenMod developers received in implementing features on other handsets?

On the whole, having hardware that can be properly supported is going to give users a better CM experience and offer Android users a wider choice of software. If the hardware is right, there’s every chance that Cyanogen Inc could attract a decent following. Best of luck to them.

Adam Koueider

I can’t seem to hold back my disappointment at the announcement of Cyanogen Inc. By now it’s clear that Cyanogen Mod won’t quite be the same Open Source community contributed project that it used to be.

I can definitely relate to some of the backlash. The people who have contributed to Cyanogenmod are now witnessing others make money off of what they helped create. We’ve already seen the fallout begin with the removal of the Focal app and I’d expect a decrease in outside contributions.

Of course, I bear no hate towards Steve and the rest of Cyanogen Inc. They’ve built something which people obviously think is worth investing in and are now getting paid for what they once did as a hobby. It’s obviously a dream come true for them and I wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

With Oppo all but being confirmed as the hardware partner for Cyanogen Inc. this October is going to be interesting. The Oppo N1, Nexus 5 and Sony Xperia Z1 are all vying for my money. Let’s just hope that the commercial move for Cyanogen doesn’t go all Gray Matter and Breaking Bad on us.

Kyle Wiggers

Incorporation, especially of a group that maintains open source software, has its advantages from a developer and end-user standpoint. Consider Canonical, makers of Ubuntu: though the company hasn’t quite reached profitability, its potential has attracted and continues to attract millions of investor dollars, which pay developer salaries. With a full-time coding staff, Canonical has the freedom to not only to pursue amazingly innovative software and services, but also to commit to firm deadlines and provide long-term support for its products. Volunteer efforts are great and wonderful things, but most consumers want assurance that the software they rely on will continue to receive updates and function far into the future. The not-for-profit CyanogenMod team couldn’t achieve that.

Certainly, there are some dissenting opinions, both within and outside of CyanogenMod. (The removal of Focal is evidence enough of that.) Many believe the focus of a corporate CyanogenMod will be profit, not user experience. I disagree. The Android ROM space is highly competitive – circumventing any overt cash grab would be as simple as flashing new firmware. CyanogenMod, therefore, has good reason to make their consumer distribution of Android the best it can be.

In sum, considering the benefits a startup of this sort is sure to enjoy, I couldn’t be happier with the team’s decision, and look forward to seeing what fruit their hardware partnerships bear.

What do YOU think?

Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

Is Cyanogen going commercial good for CM users?

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Do you think Cyanogen can make it as a business?

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Comments

  • MasterMuffin

    Next partner Newkia PLS!

    • John Hamernick-Ramseier

      Newkia and Cyanogen would be awesome for a few reasons.
      1). If Newkia carries over Nokia good hardware, that’s a big plus
      2). It will give Newkia an OS and UI that a big follow loves
      3). If Newkia doesn’t make their own skin and just use Cyanogen they will get associated with with Cyanogen(for bad or worse) instead of Microsoft(which is a major improvement)

    • Matthew Apostolou

      I actually really like this idea! :D

  • lil bit

    I dont think this news is a good basis for a friday debate, maybe the editors have overestimated the average readers passion for CM. This is definitively not a “run and buy” thing for me, not at all. If the dual boot rumors are true then its even worse, now thats gonna be a messy N1, only for the specially interested.

    Still, its interesting to read the 3 contributors views on it.

    • Lil bit

      Wow, I got a down vote, but I’m still the only one who has commented somewhat on topic, my point is well proven, this topic does not catch on, at least it didn’t yet.

  • MissingLink

    WIth phones like the Moto X (and new Droid lineup) that are closer to stock Android and with manufactures doing a better job of deploying updates, there is less need for custom ROMs. Unless they can come up with something more compelling than stock Android, I’m not sure there is a future in the business.

  • VN

    The success of cyanogen inc rests on then giving updates and uniform user experience for all the devices they provide ROMs for. If oppo are going to pay cyanogen to put their ROMs on their phones I don’t see any problem with that but if they start to ignore the ROM side of things then it is going to fail

  • Cao Meo

    Here I read about Cyanogen aiming for 3rd place meaning it’s a independent platform.

    I think if that’s true the project will fail because it will not have access to Google services.

    I think Cyanogen will only be an implementation of Android just like HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz. If so it’s still Android and the talk about 3rd place for Cyanogen has no meaning at all.

  • Ben Lee

    Nobody really seems to have researched this incorporation properly. Everyone is focusing on cm, not surprisingly, and not the investors. Everyone seems to miss the fact that the major investor is the same company behind Red Hat and MySQL to of tge most supported and popular open source products out there. With thus sort if backing, CM are gaining vast experience and insight into commercialising an open source project while keeping the main project open and community driven. I’m looking forward to big things from CM going forward.

  • fluffy

    the trouble is , cyanogen is a great mod and i have it on several device BUT they don’t or can’t test their builds with all the consumer add-ons which you can connect to your device like Bluetooth headsets,earphones etc unlike what carriers do hence why they take months to release the upgraded firmware ,I have still not used a build that the camera app does not suck. i have cm on my s2 and they still have not released a build where the Bluetooth actually works properly and if they do this on any devices they produce it could be bad for them , they need to make sure that if they release any device with it preinstalled that it actually works properly across devices which means proper testing.which is vital or people will simply return the devices i sure as hell would if it was still as buggy.

    • LANCE

      blame samsung for not releasing drivers :p

  • Hoggles

    No chance this becomes mass market successful… no chance. First, it’s basically stock Android with a few improvements/ mods. It does not look or feel original enough to get noticed beyond the root & flashiholics (like myself). I personally have never cared for CM. Always buggy & pretty stale. Second reason it will fail…the name. Cyanogenmod doesn’t exactly roll off the tounge….and yes….this will matter. If the guys at CM really want to be noticed in the mass market….they need a better name.

    Unfortunately…. CM inc will fail.

  • jamie

    If they continue to allow their mod to be installed on most android devices they could become a great success. especially if they manage to make it easier to install.