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Cyanogen leads talk about the future of CyanogenMod in Reddit AmA

To clarify Cyanogen’s plans for the future, Steve Kondik, Koushik Dutta, and Abhisek Devkota, three of the leading figures of the Cyanogen project, took to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything session.
September 19, 2013
CyanogenMod logo

The CyanogenMod team announced yesterday the founding of Cyanogen Inc, a startup whose stated goal is to turn the popular custom firmware into a viable alternative to stock Android and Apple’s iOS.

To do so, Cyanogen has already secured $7 million in funding, opened two offices, got several experienced advisors onboard, and struck a partnership with an OEM partner that will be announced next week. While these first steps are definitely impressive and encouraging, many questions remain about the future of the project.

To clarify Cyanogen’s plans for the future, Steve Kondik, Koushik Dutta, and Abhisek Devkota, three of the leading figures of the Cyanogen project, took to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything session.

These are some of the most interesting questions and answers. We highly encourage you to read the full AmA to get the complete picture.

On monetization

Monetization isn’t an immediate concern and our investors and Benchmark and Redpoint feel the same. CyanogenMod has the potential to become an enormous platform play, and to do that, we need to foster and grow the ecosystem. Right now, we just want to build something compelling and grow the user base. Eventually, there are innumerable paths to monetization once we reach economics of scale: licensing our software/services to OEMs, building hardware, creating secure enterprise solutions

On OEM partnerships

Right now we only have the capacity for partnerships with well established OEMs.

We have a least one OEM partnership in the works, there will be an announcement next week regarding our plans there

On Google services

We’re in an interesting spot, because typically GSF [Google Services Framework] is licensed to OEMs, not software vendors (us). But becoming a legitimate business entity and partnering with an OEM are the first steps to licensing GSF. Most of the technical hurdles have already been overcome (passing CTS [Compatibility Test Suite]).

We love Google services, and so do our users. Despite sensationalist headlines from earlier today, we feel we are an ally to Google, not a competitor

We want to improve our relationship with Google, for sure. We’re still a bit outside their model, but I believe that what we are doing is still in their best interests.

On Cyanogen and its goals

Cyanogen Inc’s goal is to get as many people to escape from the market status quo and join us in the new direct to consumer Android ecosystem we’re building

CyanogenMod Project [is] one of the largest 3rd party Android operating systems

On the upcoming simple installer

Currently the installer supports unlockable devices and devices that come unlocked out of the box (ie, most Samsungs via Download Mode)

We’re still deciding how to handle locked devices. There’s legislation (DMCA clause) in the US that allows the user to bypass copy protection to essentially root their phone. We could do it, it’s not hard, but we have to make sure that this won’t get us into any hot water later

The first release of the installer won’t support devices that require exploits. The long-term goal is to open up OEMs to the possibility of supporting us officially- there’s zero technical reason for these measures and the best way to fix it is to not buy these devices and speak your mind.

We can do this stuff in our sleep now. The tool will guide any user through the process.

On Google’s stance on Chromecast

They [Google] invited me [Koushik Dutta] out to lunch, I met up with the team, we shot the sh*it. They tried to hire me. I actually accidentally blurted out that CyanogenMod got funded.

I’m working on bringing Chromecast/Airplay mirroring support, as that requires a custom Android build to even be possible.

On other contributors to CyanogenMod

We actively hired and are hiring out of our contributor pool. We’re doing the best to reward our past contributors by turning their hobby into a job they love. At current count, we’ve hired 8 contributors from the project, and plan to hire more.

On close sourcing CyanogenMod

There are no plans to close the source for things such as device support and work done in the community. We do need to build value for the company, and there are various things we are working on that require significant time and capital to develop- these may be proprietary but we won’t pervert/close the core OS for this to happen.

The core of the project (hardware support, community contributions, etc) will always remain open source. But obviously, as a company that has financial needs, employees to pay, Cooper treats to buy, and Cyanogen-babies to feed, we will need to make careful decisions about what we open source, and what may become proprietary.