Just last week Cyanogen found itself in the news after speaking at The Information’s “Next Phase of Android” event, where Cyanogen’s Kirt McMaster boldly stated, “I’m the CEO of Cyanogen. We’re attempting to take Android away from Google.” Now according to the Wall Street Journal, Cyanogen is making news once again, this time thanks to Microsoft. If the WSJ is to be believed, Microsoft is a minority investor in the latest round of equity funding that managed to secure $70 million for Cyanogen.
While neither Cyanogen or Microsoft has yet to comment, apparently several people familiar with the situation have spoken up about the matter. Microsoft isn’t alone in cozying up to Cyanogen either, as many other strategic investors are said to be interested in investing, mainly because they want a piece of the Android pie and are hoping to steal some of Google’s control over Android. After all, Google’s certification terms dictate what the default search engine will be used for a phone, what many of the default apps will be out of the box, and several other aspects of the OS. Although this translates to a solid experience for end-users, it makes it harder for app makers and service providers to get any attention from their own alternatives to Google apps and services (ehm… Bing).
Microsoft isn’t alone in cozying up to Cyanogen, as many other strategic investors are said to be interested in investing, mainly because they want a piece of the Android pie and are hoping to steal some of Google’s control over Android.
What exactly would Microsoft have to gain from getting in bed with Cyanogen? For one thing, Windows Phone is still a relatively small time player with about 3% of the mobile marketshare. While Microsoft is pushing forward with its mobile efforts and has big plans for Windows 10, it never hurts to have a backup plan. It is also worth noting that Microsoft has been much more Android-friendly in recent years, introducing versions of Microsoft Office and even experimenting with apps for Android Wear.
As already mentioned, investing into Cyanogen could also make it more likely that Microsoft could get their Bing search engine and other services featured in future handsets that come with Cyanogen OS out of the box. Bottom-line, Microsoft isn’t putting all of its eggs in one basket, and we can’t say we blame them. Just remember MS is a minority investor and so this won’t really give them any real power over the future direction of the Android-based ROM.