Last month, a report in The Wall Street Journal claimed that Microsoft had become a 'minority investor' in Cyanogen, in a recent round of equity financing worth around $70 million. The company behind the hugely popular CyanogenMod user experience on Android was said to be courting various 'strategic investors' who are equally "eager to diminish Google's control over Android".
Indeed, it seems that Cyanogen is quietly raising an army with which it plans to take its fight directly to Google's door. Re/code reports that the company is continuing to engage in discussions with numerous companies - including Microsoft and Amazon - who share its broad strategic objective of developing Android releases that offer a truly compelling alternative to Google's service-led stranglehold on its OS.
Cyanogen uses the open source version of Android, which does not come with the same obligation to use Google's services - such as Gmail, Maps, YouTube and the Play Store - that Google's not-so-open version of Android demands. It seems that Cyanogen wants to continue to offer bigger and better versions based on the open-source release, while offering other high-quality apps and services pre-installed instead of those offered by Google.
That's where Microsoft's involvement certainly becomes more interesting - with Microsoft investing in the company, it's not hard to imagine a future version of CyanogenMod coming with Office, OneDrive, Outlook, and other key Microsoft products baked into the ROM. If similar deals can be agreed with other leading brands, CyanogenMod could potentially become the ideal user experience for Android.
However, none of the companies involved are currently willing to discuss their plans, so for now, we can only speculate as to exactly what Cyanogen and its potential allies may have in store for the enemy. And while some firms are no doubt eager for the opportunity to try to give Google a good thrashing, some potential investors have reportedly pulled out, fearing an unfavorable reaction from Google.
But a recent comment by Cyanogen's CEO, Kirt McMaster, made it clear that his company won't be pulling its punches once things really kick off: "We're going to take Android away from Google," he said.
Cyanogen's army may not be ready to bring down Google just yet - but McMaster has already declared war.
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