Cyanogen ends OnePlus partnership, aims to work with bigger Chinese vendors

by: Robert TriggsApril 28, 2015

cyanogen (2)

Speaking in Beijing at the Global Mobile Internet Conference, Cyanogen’s Kirt McMaster and Steve Kondik have been discussing the past and future of the fledgling company. After a fairly rocky relationship, it may not surprise you to hear that Cyanogen and OnePlus are parting ways, as Cyanogen looks for new hardware vendors to bring its custom Android OS to market.

According to Cyanogen’s Steve Kondik, the two companies ultimately had different goals for its software and, as a result, there were collisions between personalities as the two attempted to proceed with their own visions. Not to mention that the two stepped on each other’s toes when it came to launching the OnePlus One in India last year. Cyanogen had already signed an exclusive deal with rival low cost smartphone manufacturer MicroMax, which temporarily banned the sale of OnePlus handsets powered by the custom OS in India.

“That’s probably the last you will see from that partnership.” … “Two new companies are trying to do crazy stuff, a lot of people collide.” – Steve Kondik

Kirt McMaster doesn’t seem particularly happy with the way the relationship went or ended. He believes that OnePlus essentially piggybacked on the Cyanogen brand name and that the company wouldn’t have sold many handsets without its market appeal. Although, he did wish OnePlus the best in the future. In an email, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei described the relationship as more “mutually beneficial.”

“Without Cyanogen, OnePlus would have sold like one device in international markets,” … “Essentially they built their brand on the back of Cyanogen.” – Kirt McMaster

However, this by no means is the last that we’ll be seeing of Cyanogen in the smartphone space. The company is apparently already working with new partners, specifically ones which can scale up production to reach the international market quicker. No brands have been mentioned by name, although another low-cost Chinese manufacturer seems likely. However, it seems that Cyanogen is keen to break free of the competitive Chinese marketplace and into the international market, and is looking for a partner with similar global ambitions.

We’ll have to wait and see who Cyanogen can convince to abandon the security of Google’s Android ecosystem in favour of its own ambitious plans.

Read more: Cyanogen CEO- We’re putting a bullet through Google’s head

“OnePlus shipped reasonable volume, but nothing compared to what some of these other partners can ship,” … “we are working with partners that can scale much quicker.”

As for OnePlus, the company has its new Oxygen OS to fill the gap left by Cyanogen OS, which looks as if it will take over as the primary OS for future handset releases and updates. Although, Cyanogen will continue to offer support to devices still running its OS.

  • mayur gatare

    This was gonna happen…most of us just were waiting for somethng official like this
    Its not good though to end in this way for both OnePLus and Cynogen. :(

  • KWar

    Good thing they have already started work on OxygenOS then. It isn’t much at the moment and I’m still using CM12 but given a few months to mature I’m sure it could become a great custom version of Android and will help OnePlus continue.

    I think he is wrong to suggest that OnePlus success was down to Cyanogen. There were so many reasons for people buying a OnePlus One and while CM was one of them, there were loads of other reasons and the main reason I bought it was that it was a flagship phone, with a mid range price. Other reasons included software customizability (its much easier to get another OS on there than just about any other phone), the looks (which i think are great), the large screen, its unique and many other reasons I am sure.

    • Siva Pradeep

      yes u are absolute correct

      • Ray Charles

        Ya ya, very correct ya. Sooper correct ya.

    • 213Edu

      cant agrred more

    • miguel

      Correct. Cyanogen meant nothing to me, personally and I don’t trust them when they said they will keep supporting those one plus one phones already with CM. I use android Google apps and its themes. I will try to install oxygen OS.

    • Jonathon Rios


    • Aswin Francis

      True. I bought the phone beacuse of its value for money and the dev support and first thing i did after getting it was flash a ROM based on AOSP. Not CM.

    • dgrantuk

      I can’t take anything that Kirk says seriously. I think the guy is a liability and may in fact be the downfall for CM. Unless his strategy is to raise awareness of CM by making blundering sound bites full of pumped up testosterone irrelevance.

    • Joel Joonatan Kaartinen

      He’s not necessarily wrong on that point. OnePlus One marketing was very grassroots based and having the device come with CM gave them a quite sizable grassroots community who promoted the phone very enthusiastically from the start. The benefit from CM was not that most buyers were enthusiastic about it. The benefit was that the community was so enthusiastic about the phone they told all their friends about it.

      I’m not saying they couldn’t have been as succesful without CM, just that it’d have taken much more time (or alternatively a lot money for advertising, which would have increased the price of the phone).

    • Jeremy Ritchey

      I especially like the last quote in the article which completely magnifies the greed that we have all been aware of for awhile now. ‘we’re working with companies that can scale much quicker’.
      They have no interest in working with an OEM like one plus who made an incredible device that was attempting to survive outside of the status quo and full of value. They priced it right where flagships should be priced while the cost of other flagships has gotten way out of hand. Most cost between $200-300 a piece to produce so why are they charging $800-1000 for these devices? Especially when we’re being trained to upgrade to the shiny new model the following year.

  • Nader Balooch

    Beg to differ. As an iPhone user I was completely drawn to the One Plus because of it’s specs and price. Cyanogen mod was something I learned about a little while after I placed my order. One Plus seemed like at the point like it was a sturdy phone that was offering people amazing specs at a really good price. Unlike Apple, out to make as much money possible.

  • SugarFreeTargets

    How long before they end their next partnership?

    If they continue doing this, no company would want to partner up with them because they’ll know CM will stab them in the back.

  • Anaron

    Good riddance. As much as I like the features of Cyanogen OS 12, I don’t rely on them. I’m okay with using OxygenOS and I hope that it gets even better. I’m glad OnePlus covered their bases by working on their own ROM.

    Also, the success of the OPO was mainly due to its specs and price. That’s what drew most people. The fact that it shipped with CyanogenMod 11 was a bonus.

  • Jelson Tellis

    CM is the reason for OPO’s success? Are you kidding me?
    CM is a backstaber. While it already had a contract with OPO it got into another contract with micromax. People bought OPO for the specs and coz it was android. The demand wouldn’t change in the future. Oxygen OS is still great n close to stock android.

    • KWar

      Well I do believe the original agreements were 1+ w/ CM not allowed in India and Micromax w/o CM not allowed outside India.

      • jerdog76

        No – original agreement was a worldwide non-exclusive. Then CM went and made an exclusive to India contract with Micromax/YU which edged out OnePlus in India.

    • miguel

      You r exactly right!

    • CM

      You can always flash cm if you want

  • mad876

    Kirt McMaster seems to think he is impressing the industry… I’m very unimpressed and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I use to be a fan of Cyanogen, now not so much. There way of doing business these days is highly distasteful .. “Without Cyanogen, OnePlus would have sold like one device in international markets,” … “Essentially they built their brand on the back of Cyanogen.” Really? I believe people bought the phone because of the price not just because of Cyanogen. He built their bran on the back of Google, he got popular because the community had respect for him and what he was doing, supported him and made him as popular. Now it seems he thinks he got where he now is all on his own… I’m getting tired of this guy… my 2cents

    • DrCarpy

      I totally understand your feelings in regards to Kirk McMaster. He’s far too obnoxious, cocky, and downright rude. If I was a manufacturer, I’d be extremely hesitant to do business with Cyanogen. Cyanogen dumped their partner in a publicly vitriolic way. This should be a warning to others what they’re capable of.

      • Just immature people who don’t belong in the world of business. If I was an OEM I’d laugh at them.

        • luckyo

          You wouldn’t. If you’re an OEM, you’d avoid people like him. It’s dangerous to associate with people that basically take a public dump on their former partners for no real reason.

      • jerdog76

        Many of the companies they are trying to do business with in emerging markets (China, India, etc.) don’t care – they just want to sell devices.

        • crackinthewall

          Plus, they just want to provide something the competition doesn’t– better software support. It’s a given that buying one of those cheap-ass phones would get you ONE update IF you’re lucky. Cyanogen could potentially provide their phones a better upgrade path but good luck with that. Whatever happened to the first phone with CyanogenOS (The Oppo N1)? How long did it take them to upgrade the OPO? We shit on manufacturers with dozens of phones to update in a year and they all managed to deliver Lollipop faster than Cyanogen could for three phones?

      • miguel

        Absolutely!!! I couldn’t agree more.

      • Mohamad Wahba

        very true

    • Julian Andres Klode

      No, I bought the phone because of Cyanogen. Without it, I would not have considered it.

      • Mousecop

        Most bought it due to the combination of Cyanogen, low cost and specs comparable to flagship phones. Even without Cyanogen, it would have sold less, but not a lot less, due to it being priced so competitively.

        • jerdog76

          From what I have heard, they sold more in China without CM (which also you could buy at anytime without an invite) than they did with CM.

        • luckyo

          Most 1+1 phones were sold in China. Those sold with their own version of android, not cyanogen.

          Of those sold in the Western markets, quite a few were flashed to other versions of android ASAP. Cyanogenmod was and still remains quite flaky on 1+1 and their support is terrible.

          Luckily one of the major advantages of this phone is the ease of installing another version of android/rooting it. That was it’s main selling point in addition to low price for top end hardware.

      • Bharat

        I agree to that, even I too would have considered a OnePlus for its specs but would have never bought one.
        CM’s presence added a guarantee for updates. CM was supporting very old phones and that added a guarantee that a phone with CM would not get obsolete too soon. They supported even Galaxy Cooper,Galaxy S for 4.4. Galaxy SII, SIII are still supported for CM12 lollipop adding weight to that guarantee.
        But for now OnePlus and CM are brands in their own rights.

        • luckyo

          You’re confusing Cyanogenmod the software community and Cyanogen the company.

          Those are two different entities.

          • Bharat

            They are the same. Cyanogenmod was once a software community that has now become into a software company.
            Cyanogen community was a community that build ROMs for free. Now, the Cyanogen software company wants to do this for money for Chinese companies. The question is if they do so successfully for money, will they still support any phones any longer for free??

          • crackinthewall

            OnePlus was not their first tie-up, it was with Oppo for the N1. AFAIK, they still don’t have an official CM12S update for that device. Not only that, CM11S was released 11 months after the phone’s release.

            The CM Community is different from Cyanogen, Inc. Anyone can port Cyanogenmod to any phone (CM Community) but the Cyanogen OS that Cyanogen, Inc. released for their partners are commercial ROMS with features that are not found on the community ROM hence the difference between Cyanogenmod 11 and Cyanogen 11S.

    • Mohamad Wahba

      exactly. he thinks he is one of a kind

    • Android Developer

      I didn’t understand what he meant by “Without Cyanogen, OnePlus would have sold like one device in international markets,” .
      They actually did sell only one device, with CM , and not without it. So, with or without, they would have sold a single device?
      Doesn’t it mean that CM doesn’t change anything in this?

  • Aravind

    In the second paragraph you had meant to type ” there were collisions between personnel ” and typed “Personal” instead. Or may be I am wrong :)

  • Chris

    Why would anyone want to work with cyanogenmod now? They destroyed any credibility and trust they had with the community that made them so large in the first place. If I had a choice (without rooting/unlocking), I would go to paranoid android or any other flavour of custom rom.

    -OPO owner
    I will never go cyanogenmod again.

  • Sherpa

    A couple of years from now:
    “Cyanogen ends partnership with bigger Chinese vendors, aims to work with EVEN bigger Chinese vendors”

    • If they drop any more OEMs like this then their road to success doesn’t bode well for them.

    • Rakshith Anand

      And in couple of years OnePlus will be one of those “EVEN” bigger chinese vendors. -_-

      • Miguel

        I agree 100%

      • Rifqi Al Fariz

        Sooo right. I believe Oneplus will be bigger than this. Even without cyanogen

  • IDontKnow
  • root03

    It is immature of Cyanogen to think that 1+ success is due to OS brand alone. I was impressed with the kind of hardware it packed and the design. In fact, I find cyanogen ui lacking in contrast to hardware. Lenovo has done better job with UI & package than cyanogen in it’s recent phones. Having used cyanogenmod on my older moto phone, I find their remarks & mindset disappointing

  • Aishwary Raj

    For me CM was a important factor in getting the OPO, however not the only one. Even with the OxygenOS running the OPO is better than most flagship devices. Sad to see this partnership broken. But I’m hopeful for the future with the oxygenOS. I just hope they keep the OS light and close to stock as much possible. If it doesn’t match CM standards in the future I’ll stick to CM by installing it manually. But I can definitely see myself using a OnePlus phone for a long time.

  • PurpleUrchin

    “Not to mention that the two stepped on each other’s toes…”? More like CM stomped on OPO’s feet…Big time.

  • Sqube

    A man whose company piggybacked off of another company is bitter about a company piggybacking off of his company.

    I see.

  • The Manhatten

    hahah dont tell me, oneplus gain popularity becouse of cm -_- and still cm cant offer stable os withoit bugs or good battery, but thier plans are ambitious, i dont see any future of Cyanogen as a company but as a small developer group which develops custom rom for various device

  • ibeme

    I DIDN’T consider the OPO because of CM… I’ve never used a CM version that was reliable enough to call steady state. Even when they were built out releases… I might consider an OPO now….

  • Nazgul

    That’s some serious arrogance coming from CM. Don’t get me wrong…I’m flashing CM 12.1 nightlies every time one comes out, but to go as far as basically saying that OP would not have gone anywhere without CM…

    I knew nothing about CM when I bought the OPO. I was attracted by the specs to cost ratio and the fact it was rather rare to find one in the wild. It could’ve been running stock AOSP or even PA and I would still have bought it.

  • Brotaku

    This is great news for OnePlus. No one should want to do business with those ignorant fucks over at Cyanogen Inc.

  • nuno

    The big problemas with cm is that its too buggy for onde plus one. ( i have one ) .its good to have updates and all but cm at least with one plus could have been so much better . oxygen os is 1.0 let it mature and it will be great as well

  • Seth Forbus

    Yeah, not gonna lie. Cyanogenmod was one of the only reasons I got my one+one. That being said, the fact that they don’t void the warranty when you root is amazing. I’m running the pac-man rom. No plans to change.

  • Tim Lochmüller

    After my experience with CM on the Oneplus I will avoid Cyanogen on any device in the future. Why? Because if you go for a device supported by Cyanogen Inc. you will never now how long that company will support it in the future. So called “guaranties” from them (support at least for two years) is worth nothing as we now see with the catastrophic rollout of COS12 on the Oneplus One. That’s what I and many other Oneplus customers learnt from Cyanogen Inc’s way to do business: They are just not trustworthy.

  • Luka Mlinar

    Why would anyone else get in bed with them considering they can’t stay in a relationship even for one year.

  • In a few years Cyanogen Inc. went through a few partners, and actually screwed Oneplus in a sales situation in India. After this behavior, in place of decent vendors, I would not venture to contact this company, because there is no guarantee that he will not do the same.

  • Bobby Wright

    I really hope that Cyanogen company falls flat on its face.
    No one needs a tiny little delusional software company thinking its king of the world.

    My Opinion.

  • RH

    The only reason OnePlus was as popular as it was/is, has nothing to do with the OS, and everything to do with the PRICE, specs & viral marketing.

  • Karly Johnston

    OPO made no profit and only sold 1 million out of expected demand for 5m… where is the success? Asus had more preorders out of China in 2 days for the Zenfone 2.

  • browngeek

    This is what I don’t get. Cyanogen are clearly acting as douches, esp their CEO. They seemed to have pissed off a lot of people. But at the same time they are getting some serious funding and traction. When Cyanogen Inc was set up I am sure many thought they would not gain any mainstream traction, but it seems they are. I’m a fan of the CyanogenMod ROM but am not a fan of Cyangen Inc (i.e. the corporate entity).

  • Jonathon Rios

    Cyanogens CEO needs someone to knock him upside his head real good for screwing over OnePlus. I’ll gladly do it.

  • Willy Lim

    Cyanogen is being arrogant…

  • Escudero

    As a tech guy, an OPO owner and someone that has followed Cyanogen since the community started, it’s sad to see how this guys are drowning Cyanogen, and after this i don’t plan to buy another phone with Cyanogen OS or flash a Rom made by the company, i just don’t like how they are doing things anymore

  • Mike Clyde

    Installed the new oxygen is. So far it is better than the old stuff.seems faster, battery life may be half hour less for me but at 17 hours it still beats most others.

  • Evan Langlois

    CM 12 has been horribly buggy and with Cyanogen parrnering with Microsoft, I’ll be aaying goodbye to Cyanogen for good.

    What makes OnePlus isnt Cyanogen. For me, it’s that they dont wall off the phone and brand the hell out of the apps. I can run whatever OS O want, and OnePlus is still supportive. Root your S6 and see how well Samsung likes you.

  • Me

    cyanogen inc i s going to put themselves out of business with actions like that.

  • trail

    Will OnePlus manufacture new international models of the One with just OxygenOS out of the box from that date on? Will OnePlus declare the latest update to CM12S to be the last when they release a new stable version of OxygenOS (based on the latest available update to Android 5.1)?

  • Archie Lee

    I think that Kirt McMasters is way over estimating Cyanogen’s impact upon the sale of OnePlus One phones. It is true that for some customers who already flashed custom versions of Android onto their phones were interested in OPO because it already came with CM11s… However many customers including myself were attracted to OPO because it was a high end phone at a very reasonable price. At the time I purchased my OPO, Google had not yet brought the Nexus 6 to market yet and I was considering waiting to see and compare the two phones before deciding which to buy. However the minute I learned that the upcoming Nexus 6 was going to be priced like the other high end phones (i.e. $600+) it was a simple decision to go with OnePlus. I know many others on the OPO forum agree with this. There are many for whom Cyanogen had not one iota of weight upon their decision to purchase of the OPO. Just as Touchwiz is not the reason a customer buys a Samsung Galaxy phone, Cyanogen isn’t the reason many bought the OPO. Those interested in custom roms may have to some degree been attracted to OPO since it already had CM on the phone but in reality those who were already flashing roms could have done so on many other phones on the market.

    If Cyanogen wanted to break free of China and into the International marketplace, OnePlus is already in that space. True their shipping volume wasn’t as big as maybe some other vendors but in reality Cyanogen would not have the global recognition it now has except for OnePlus. Yes it had global recognition before BUT only with those interested in trying out different custom roms. However the majority of Android users globally had not even heard of Cyanogen which did not come installed on any globally marketed Android phone… until the OPO. They should acknowledge that what true global recognition they do have is thanks in no small part due to the OPO. OPO was featured in many technology/android websites primarily because it was a high end phone at a reasonable price and since it happen to have Cyanogen’s version of Android installed, more people became aware of Cyanogen.

    • Ranjith Thiru

      “some degree been attracted to OPO since it already had CM on the phone” – right point

  • Mohamad Wahba

    why cyanogen’s owners are kind of rude … not the first time … oneplus sold over million piece for two reasons .. the CM and the hardware .. cyanogen is weird in its justifications

  • Mohamad Wahba

    after their rude breakup, OEMs will think twice before signing a contract with them. OR signing a very solid contract with those two cyanogen maniacs

  • Borja Oxangoiti

    Although I think that the OnePlus One had many other good sales points I just bought it because I needed a phone with a ROM I actually liked without unlocking the bootloader. OxygenOS is not there just yet but I do not plan to replace my One anytime soon.

  • Santosh Km

    Cyanogen is just a topping for oneplus one android module. It cannot be the main ingredient for its popularity.

  • Anil Ch

    I feel Cyanogen is the loser :P

  • Saurabh Chakraborty

    So does this mean no oneplus updates form CM?

  • monkey god

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper for OnePlus to just use pure stock Android? And if so, I wonder how this could affect sales, negatively or positively.

  • Geek

    arrogant morons!!

  • David Tchulukhadze

    Essentially Cyanogen built their brand on the back of Google .

  • Erik

    Success of OPO was value that it sold for.. not because it came with CM… not everyone can afford $800+ device from Samsung and Apple…

  • Shshank Vishwa

    Kirt is so arrogant, what a bitch .. :-@

  • rj

    Cyanogen doing right thing…. it will help Cyanogen to go all around the world if they partnered with big manufacturers since one plus just selling one device with limited stocks. Being with OPO will limit the Cyanogen so its a right move.