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article imageCyanogen gives up on stealing Android from Google, ends OS work

By James Walker     Oct 11, 2016 in Technology
Cyanogen has announced it is ceasing development of its Android-based operating system. It had previously hoped to create an Android distribution widespread enough to rival Google's stock image. In practice, the plan was never achieved though.
Cyanogen started life as an immensely popular Android ROM, CyanogenMod. As CyanogenMod became more successful, the startup Cyanogen emerged. The company planned to evolve CyanogenMod into a complete mobile OS with only its roots based on Android. Cyanogen wanted to create a distinct version of Android to rival Google's original after becoming concerned about the company's domination of the mobile ecosystem.
Earlier this year, the first signs emerged that all may not be going to plan. With Cyanogen OS failing to gain momentum and only a handful of smartphones launching with the OS preinstalled, Cyanogen evidently wasn't achieving its aim. In July, Cyanogen laid off 20 percent of its workforce after failing to attract interest from phone manufacturers and consumers.
Today, the company admitted that the plan for Cyanogen OS is no longer feasible. The company is shifting its efforts to a revised version of its MOD modular program, launched earlier this year. Cyanogen OS in its current state will no longer be developed. Instead, the company will build reusable Android components to sell to other manufacturers.
The move came about as a consequence of the changes in the Android ecosystem over the past few years. The platform has become fragmented so the vast majority of devices no longer receive updates or get timely security patches. According to Cyanogen, the hardware makers are so focused on efficiency they're "compromising investment" in new software.
This is evident from the scarcity of Cyanogen OS-based phones. The only high-profile device to use the platform was the OnePlus One in 2014. The company then abandoned Cyanogen for 2015. Smartphone manufacturers aren't interested in Cyanogen's version of Android when the Google original is still good enough for most customers. This industry mentality has forced Cyanogen to take a different approach, separating itself from the core of Android to focus on modularity.
Previously, Cyanogen delivered a "full-stack" operating system in which it was responsible for creating and releasing every part of the software, from the low-level networking interface to user interface tweaks. Under its new model, Cyanogen will instead "aim for something greater than the sum of our parts." Its Modular OS project will result in the creation of a set of Android components for other manufacturers to use in their own Android ROMs.
"Cyanogen’s Modular OS program will allow value, independence and intelligence to flow freely between the layers of the ecosystem, providing more companies and developers with the freedom to borrow from, unite and utilize our technology in new and innovative ways," the company said.
Cyanogen used to try to sell its operating system to device manufacturers. Now, it's going to try to sell modular components instead. The company thinks that even though brands don't want Cyanogen OS they may still be interested in using parts of it individually. Manufacturers will now be able to use Cyanogen's AI cloud services in their own ROMs, for example, enabling them to monitor a user's usage of the OS and identify patterns.
The details are still vague and it seems as though much of the Modular OS idea remains conceptual. It's unclear whether any manufacturers have already expressed interest in using Cyanogen components in their Android distributions. The one thing that is certain is Cyanogen is undergoing major change that sees it leaving its own operating system behind. With Cyanogen OS no more, fans will need to revert to the community-driven CyanogenMod to get all its features.
More about cyanogen, cyanogen os, cyanogenmod, Android, Smartphones
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