While Cyanogen boasted over 50 million users just a year ago, it would seem that the company is in deeper trouble than it let on. Firstly, a recent report from The Information seems to indicate that the company was grossly overstating user numbers with active weekly users reaching only 2-3 million. Secondly, the company seems to be in dire financial straits as it recently let off more than 20% of its workforce.
It seems a change was needed to both the company's strategy and its organisational structure. Cyanogen co-founder Kirt McMaster will be stepping down from his role as CEO to assume the chairmanship of the board, while COO Lior Tal will ascend to his position. Tal, who was brought in from Facebook in June, was rumoured to be shifting the company's focus from a full-blown OS, and it seems the rumours were true.
In a blog post this Monday, Tal announced his new position and a Cyanogen Modular OS Program which aims at shifting the primary focus of the company from their in-house Cyanogen OS (which will still be available) to a more modular approach, whereby the company provides various aspects of its OS efforts available to manufacturers to add to their own Android forks and skins.
The move, according to McMaster, is a result of the company failing to scale with its OS-centric approach. The company did see some early success with OnePlus and Micromax but not much more beyond that and, in fact, soon lost its partnership with OnePlus due to rising complications.
Tal hopes that the modular approach will bring a more open and smarter OS to the masses and improve security in the increasingly fragmented world of Android. The company believes that the increasing competition among Android OEMs, especially at the lower end, has stifled investment and innovation in software in their drive to make prices more competitive; the new program should allow such companies to outsource the software innovations to Cyanogen, while still keeping their own mark on the device by simply adding the desired components from Cyanogen to their own ROMs.
The new strategy is expected to allow the company to scale efficiently while working towards its ultimate goal of wresting control of Android from Google. While it's still unclear as to how the strategy will pan out and how successful it will be, it will certainly be interesting to watch.