Report: Microsoft, Samsung and others showing interest in Cyanogen

by: Bogdan PetrovanAugust 29, 2014
kirt mcmaster steve kondik koushik dutta cyanogen

Kirt McMaster (left), Steve Kondik, and Koushik Dutta

Via: Wired

Less than a year after it was established, Cyanogen is on a clear upward trajectory. The startup has even caught the eye of several tech giants, according to a new report.

The Information’s Amir Efrati reports that Cyanogen (an “obscure Android software firm,” he calls it) is being courted by several of the biggest names in the tech industry, including Microsoft, Yahoo, Samsung, and Amazon. These companies are reportedly looking at the startup founded by Steve Kondik and Kirt McMaster for potential partnerships or acquisitions.

Cyanogen and Microsoft's CEO reportedly had a sit-down

Cyanogen and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently had a “sit-down,” the report cites a person close to the matter as saying.

Unfortunately, the full story is behind a paywall, and I couldn’t find a different source.

Why would Microsoft, Yahoo, Samsung, and Amazon show interest in Cyanogen? As The Information puts it, these are all companies interested in developing Android apps or Android alternatives, and have an interest in doing this outside of Google’s control.

This resonates with a recent statement from Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster, who had this to say about Google’s control over its OS:

“Everyone in the world wants an open Android,” McMaster said. “They want to get outside of Google’s tyranny, if you will.”

Why is Cyanogen interesting to these companies?

Amazon is developing its own fork of Android, Fire OS, but it’s not obvious to me how it could benefit from Cyanogen’s team and the CyanogenMod project.

Yahoo, under Marissa Mayer, made no secret of its mobile ambitions – the company bought the Aviate launcher and a number of other Android apps, and partnering with Cyanogen could perhaps allow it to promote its web services and apps.

Samsung has long sought a plan B when it comes to mobile operating systems, and Tizen OS has so far failed to gather any steam.

The most intriguing of the lot is probably Microsoft – Windows Phone is struggling at 2-4 percent market share, despite Microsoft’s huge efforts over the last few years. Under Nadella, the company’s philosophy appears to be shifting towards releasing apps and products across all platforms. Also, Microsoft could be the only competitor able to offer a viable alternative to Google’s proprietary apps, like Gmail, Drive, Maps, and the Play Store. It isn’t that hard to imagine a bizarro world where CyanogenMod phones ship with a full suite of apps from Microsoft. Of course, that’s just speculation based on an incomplete report from a single source.

In potentially related news, this week we also learned that Cyanogen is partnering with a stealth startup called Nextbit, whose stated goal is to develop “breakthrough technology that allows for deeper integration between the cloud and mobile devices.” The first fruits of this collaboration will be revealed later this year, according to Nextbit’s CTO. What makes this mystery startup interesting is that it’s founded by and staffed with former core members of the Android team, as well as people from Apple and other big players. HTC’s former design boss has joined Nextbit as a VP just this week.

  • crutchcorn

    Oh no…. No no no no no no…. This stinks more than stinky cheese.

  • Mike Reid

    Microsoft, hmm ?

    Microsoft could throw a wrench into a good chunk of the Android enthusiast source of kernels and ROMs. Despite Omni, and many, many others, CM is still kinda dominant.

    So MS is potentially the buyer that’s the worst threat to Android. Look what they did to poor Nokia.

    On the other side, CM uses that to get Google to buy them out. Everybody at CM cashes out, etc., etc…

    All above is “crazy” speculation of course, LOL.

    • JDMillest

      But there’s so much others developers out there that can do what CM are doing. Why not go after those guys.

  • asdasd

    Everyone wants to kick the hands that feed them.

    • dsDoan

      You’re no different. If you could use the resources given you, to independently support yourself, you’d absolutely do it.

    • frankob

      Some people, and companies are ran by people, prefer independence. After all, Google became Google because it kicked the hand that fed them — Microsoft and its Windows (desktop) platform. It’s like Bercht had written: you who are the leader, don’t forget you became that because you doubted your own leaders.

      • MJay

        No, that is different because Google purchased aosp and left it as an open as for people OEMS to use in order to promote their ad business. Companies like amazon began to undercut Google and make money off of their creation. Cyanogen should never make the comments they have made lately considering their operating is built completely off the android code. Smh! I am one of the very few people who are happy about android becoming more closed so they can take back their os and prevent companies from forking it. Samsung will eat dirt when they try to switch. I am heard people say Samsung is android! No no, my first android was a Motorola xt720, then lg g2x, Lol then a HTC amaze! That was before I became tech savvy. So when Samsung switches consumers will realize the os is not what they are used to and their apps are missing and pick a different phone. Companies getting richer off of something Google built is terrible, excluding Google’s OEM partners of course!!!!

        • frankob

          So, when Google gets richer off of something that others have built — namely Linux — it is OK, but when others try to do it off of Android (Linux-based!), it is not?

          Well, I guess it is impossible to have meaningful conversation with fanboys…

          • MJay

            Go do your research, Google bought it! Key words, payed for it with money!!! Before you start name calling remember that everyone’s comments are opinion and no one’s opinion is fact. I am entitled to my opinion as you are to yours. So take off your panties and stop wining like a 2 yr old girl idiot! Smh, I am no fanboy because I love all technology.

          • frankob

            No, you are a fanboy because you are fanatic about your love for Google. FanBoy = Fanatic Boy.

            Google bought what? Linux?
            Go do your own research, “tech lover”. You can’t “own” free and open source software (FOSS) the way you can own proprietary software. Their very licences make it impossible. You can own the trademark, which Linux is, but not the source code, not the distribution and publishing rights, etc. Google NEVER bought the Linux kernel, it is legally plain impossible. Google also never bought the Linux trademark, which is still registred to Linus Torvalds personally. And the mainline development of Linux (kernel used by both Android and ChromeOS) is still controlled by Linus Torvalds, the Linux Kernel Organization and the Linux Foundation. Google do use the kernel, but almost never even mention its name on Android or ChromeOS, thus avoiding giving too much credit to a vast non-Google community. Those are facts. And stop whining as an overcorrect liberal petty bougeois just for being called a fan(boy). Didn’t even know it was an insult… I have no problems being called a fan(boy) of anything I do support. So I will continue wining, I like wine, thanks. ;-)

          • MJay

            Wining is a result of auto- correct that I did not catch so thanks for that. I am well aware of what a fanboy boy,

          • frankob

            Sure your statements make you look that way.

          • Shubham Singh

            Google made android what it is now or it woundnt have been here at the first place. yes android is based on linux but they dont call them names.

          • frankob

            Where did anybody on this article or conversation called Google names? O_o

          • NamelessStar

            Google bought android they didn’t develop it and making it what it is they just made all the oems sell it. In all honesty the only reason it took off is because its a google brand.

          • MJay

            Without Google, there would be no cyanogen mod, fire phone, or any of the other crap. So it does not matter if it is based off Linux or not, without Google it would still be based off Linux with no success.

          • frankob

            And this gives Google the privilege of getting rich off of something others have built, while when anybody else try to take their own share, it is “terrible”? O_o
            Your own words: “Companies getting richer off of something Google built is terrible, excluding Google’s OEM partners of course!!!!”. So, only Google is allowed to make money off of tech, and they are to decide with whom will they share it?

          • Shubham Singh

            yes they bought andriod, great ideas are not always a surety of success, its the execution. Most people in part of the world i belong and are not aware of the fact that it belongs to google all they know is it has apps and its gettable irrespective of what your budget. android never took it off because it was open to developers, if it wasnt companies like CM woudnt have got an opportunity to create a ROM for it.

        • The Calm Critic

          Let’s be very clear here before anything else:-
          1. Yeah I’ll be damned if CM sold out to MS or Samsung.

          2. How exactly will Google handle a closed Android again?

          “Smh! I am one of the very few people who are happy about android
          becoming more closed so they can take back their os and prevent
          companies from forking it.”

          And this is good in the longer term how? Have you ever thought about custom ROMs + apps’ devs? The only problem right now at forking is; yeah well no one’s doing it right and imho Amazon’s not undercutting anything except of their own userbase. This is a laughing riot. Fire phone is already showing mega signs of an epic failure.

          Doesn’t matter Google paid for what and when. AOSP/OHA is here and there because they put it up and calculated the benefits over the risks. Whether you like it or not El Goog still need all the device partners/OEMs in play.

          Show me the evidence of how Android will be better off if closed? I’ll be blunt when I say this; Nexus + Silver + One are still a trifecta of a mess that Google is still trying to figure out. Android L is aarch64 ready but for some reason shamu isn’t. HTC and Samsung looks set to actually beat a friggin’ Nexus out the door with their 64 bit phones! Silver has no real significance over GPE program and One….will get royally owned by equally cheap Chinese/Taiwanese droids in no time. Rockchip got the Ara gig while MediaTek it seems will sort One out. If this is the way things are being handled then I sure as hell wouldn’t want Google to take Android back and full any time soon.

          • frankob

            Also, the source code released to date is here anyway. If Google would decide to close up upcoming releases, you can be sure forks would flourish, potentially leaving Google isolated, which would do them no good.

    • Reed Kerr

      Forking an open source project is not a bad thing, especially if you’re doing it to innovate and create more open source advancements. That’s what AOSP is, and that’s why it’s great. Using this model, Android has been able to achieve great success on it’s own, all the while it has helped Linux, the open source community, and technology as a whole. That was the philosophy of CyanogenMod in it’s early days and why it attracted so much support from open source developers.

      Sadly, a year ago they changed their approach and started pursuing more closed licensing so that they could handle their product like a proprietary commodity. It’s no surprise that these companies want to buy them now, just proof that CyanogenMod really is dead to the open source community.

  • JayMars84

    Serious question, what exactly do they wish to accomplish developing outside of Google’s “tyranny”? Yes, Android comes with GMail and all that bundled but, unlike iOS, it doesn’t have to be the default. I’m not seeing where the urgency is coming from.

    • Fabian Taveras

      Yeah the tyranny statement caught me off guard I was like what?

  • Fabian Taveras

    If Samsung acquired cyanogen that would be a huge deal. But the question is if Samsung made this deal would this cut off all ties with Google?

    • MJay

      Cyanogen is still android and has no app ecosystem. Google separated the play store from aosp.

      • Fabian Taveras

        I see. But what if Samsung transfered the apps they had for tizen into cyanogen?

        • MJay

          IMO, I still do not think they have nearly enough apps. The play store is well established and Samsung would have a long way to go in order to catch up. They’d have a better chance than MS though.

          • Fabian Taveras

            Lol well of course tizens app store doesn’t have enough bro. the play store didn’t get all their apps over night that took years for the play store to be where it is now. And I strongly believe that tizen could do a much better job in the app department then MS. Because their store is a joke.

  • 23hourparty

    Microsoft: Go closed source, force CM to use MS services.
    Samsung: BLOOOOOOAAAAAAT, only will work on Samsung devices.
    Amazon: No Google Play/Services, uses Amazon Store instead.
    Yahoo: Dead in the water.

    Anyway, if this happens, there’s bound to be a developer that will fork CM.

    • Reed Kerr

      This should surprise no one. It started a year ago when Cyanogen Inc. was born. This is merely the fallout of that decision.

      The developers who were thinking rightly about licensing and how to benefit the open source community already did ditch the project. They started OmniROM.

  • WestFiasco

    “Everyone in the world wants an open Android…” Really, you mean more open than it already is? I think it’s high time for google to close it up a little, maybe then my damn little over one year old device wouldn’t have lost software support from its manufacturer.

    • Reed Kerr

      Yes, more open than it already is. Closing it up makes the support issue worse.

      Take the Linux kernel as an example. It will run on just about every board every made. Why? Because it’s entirely open source.

      The Windows kernel and Apple’s kernel (XNU) both will only run on a very small subset of hardware because their licensing is more restrictive.

      • WestFiasco

        I understand that, I didn’t mean completely lock it down. If they do that it wouldn’t be Android anymore but there has to be more restrictions. Not simply here’s the source code and the license to use Google services, I have a couple things I need you to adhere to and other than that you can pretty much do as you like. It seems like Google’s reeling in some of the liberties they’ve been giving OEMs and I’m all for it. Cut the cruft and keep the cream.

  • Braulio Cesar Holtz Ribeiro

    If Microsoft buy CM, abandoning the CM

    • Reed Kerr

      CyanogenMod died a year ago.

  • Shubham Singh

    before everyone starts to think will they partner with microsoft will they so amazon. will it matter few know about CM (approximately to the number of non lumia WP users(6% of total WP users) lol.) apart from hardcore geeks when you talk the oneplus (who) yes that is the reaction. If they go with amazon would we lose something no. but CM would be thing of the past at least for me

  • DarxideGarrison

    Well in my opinion, Stock Android with Xposed Framework are all I need. So many customization options to choose from its like creating your own custom ROM!

  • Groud Frank

    I don’t particularly care about about Cyanogen. I think they are extremely overrated and over hyped by their overzealous fan base; a base that wouldn’t know a good ROM if it hit them in the face. However, if Cyanogen let itself be bought out by the likes of Microsoft I will lose whatever little respect I have for them.

    • David Onter

      What’s the problem with CyanogenMod as a ROM?

  • Xavier_NYC

    LG needs to have CM develop their software.. Imagine LG Hardware with CM software…….

  • Luka Mlinar

    Except Cyanogen is just playing around. People in the office porting ROMs for their own phones with no plans for releases, just doing what ever the f*** they wont. There are people in garages with more thought out planes for their future. The problem is that non of these companys (or any i can think of) that would have the intention of keeping CM the way it is but instead build on it to the point where it would no longer be the desirable ROM we know and love now. I wish i knew what Steve’s plan was or if he has one.

  • Stadi

    I really hope this is just a rumor

    Android IS Google. I would never use Android without Google’s infrastructure. I bought an OPO with CM on it because it is stock Android with some extra features and the Google apps.

    I would never buy a phone (Android or not) that has no Google apps but Microsoft or Amazon apps on it.

  • xlSamsonlx

    Or they could show interest in stock android…

  • Haxomen

    Reading this article while runing cm11 on my galaxy s2

  • thomas sim

    Acquisition = dead for Cyanogenmod Inc
    If collaboration, it’s the way to go. Convince Microsoft to release flagship Lumia Android phone. Develop GPE similar Rom for Samsung that’s bloat free.