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According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft might just end up investing in Cyanogen Inc, a name Android power users would be quite familiar with.
The news comes as a possible message by Microsoft that they support Cyanogen’s intention to separate Android from Google. For those who missed the story, Cyanogen’s CEO, Kirk McMaster recently made a statement saying, “We are attempting to take Android away from Google.”
Since Android is an open source software, it can be downloaded and modified by anyone. The custom ROMs made by Cyanogen are in effect modified versions of the Android operating system and often offer improvements in terms of performance and additional features for power users who root their Android phones and tablets.
The issue however revolves around the use of Google’s services for Android, including the Google Play Store. Legal access to these services is restricted to those who agree with Google’s licensing agreements, which is something Cyanogen Inc intends to change.
The WSJ reported that Microsoft may be a minority investor in Cyanogen Inc among others who will be taking part in the equity investing round worth $70 million. Cyanogen have made several custom Android ROMs which have been downloaded and installed on millions of Android devices.
Cyanogen’s long-term goal is to create a parallel ecosystem for Android, separate from the one Google has created (Play Store, Google Now, Hangouts etc.), which is less restrictive.
Interestingly, it was reported last year that Cyanogen might have turned down a $1 billion buyout offer from Google. Now the company is instead looking for funding to develop a competing ecosystem, and Microsoft’s support may be a threatening message to Google.
While there are several mobile devices sporting Microsoft’s Windows operating system, the company has been unable to truly compete with Android and iOS. Many believe this is a move from Microsoft to fight against Google’s monopoly over Android.
We believe Cyanogen’s bold move is good news for everyone. Even if they can’t practically separate Android from Google, the competition itself can lead to faster updates, more features and a better overall experience for Android users.
Have you ever tried Cyanogen Mod on an Android device? Do you wish to continue using Google’s version of Android or do you support more competition within Android?
Check out Cyanogen’s website here.