With its rock-solid custom Android ROM, Cyanogen has attracted a huge following, with the likes of Oppo and OnePlus even preloading this “flavor” of Android to their high-end handsets.
Said huge following and vendors’ willingness to opt for third-party ROMs may be raising eyebrows in Mountain View, whereas the big tech companies are exploring ways team-up with Cyanogen. Or they could be looking to invest, or even acquire this startup…
According to The Information report (paywall), top dogs like Microsoft, Yahoo, Samsung and Amazon are talking with Cyanogen boys though at this moment it’s unclear what use they could have from their tech. Here’s what I think:
Microsoft could use Cyanogen to launch its own custom Android ROM that comes preloaded with their own, rather than Google’s services. Think: Nokia X. So instead of GMail users would get Outlook, instead of Google Maps – Bing Maps, instead of GDrive – OneDrive, and so on. The Redmond giant’s new CEO Satya Nadella apparently had a “sit-down” with Cyanogen founders so this could actually lead somewhere. As a reminder, Nadella is the guy who thinks beyond Windows, having launched Office for iPad.
Then there’s Yahoo! which has been acquiring startups left and right, with its CEO Marissa Mayer looking to mobile for future growth. Similarly to what we said for Microsoft, Yahoo! may want its own custom ROM that preloads the vast catalog of Yahoo services. The company has already bought the Aviate launcher as well as a number of other Android apps, so it could be beneficial to tie all of these into a single ROM.
Another contender is Samsung, which has its own TouchWIZ UI that is used by Samsung device owners exclusively. Even if it decides to open it up, we’re having hard time imagining many users flocking to install TouchWIZ onto their smartphones and tablets. In fact, the Korean giant has been bashed in the media for bloating its phones with a ton of apps few would use. With Cyanogen, on the other hand, Samsung would get a different platform, one users actually love (as long as they don’t ruin it).
Finally, Amazon has its Fire OS and their (potential) acquisition of Cyanogen would be a talent play. I can’t imagine Amazon launching something “super-open,” but you never know. Perhaps they could somehow tie Cyanogen with its suite of web services; or they may just want to invest in the company to get some sort of preload deal.
Related to the story, Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster has recently stated that many vendors doesn’t like Google’s control over the Android world. “Everyone in the world wants an open Android,” he said. “They want to get outside of Google’s tyranny, if you will.”
So, could Cyanogen attract cash from the big boys while remaining independent? It’s hard to tell, but it seems these guys (and gals) are onto something. And where there’s smoke, there’s fire… We’ll be watching this space and get back to you as soon as we have something to add. In the meantime, which of the companies listed here has the most chance to acquire Cyanogen? What do you think?