Microsoft is reportedly investing in Cyanogen, the Android modding company that’s seeking to “take Android away from Google.” Many remember Cyanogen as the former Android modding community that worked to create and maintain CyanogenMod, a popular ROM for rooted Android users. The core team became an official company in 2013, working at the time to simply make it easier to get CyanogenMod onto different device. Now, the company has a different mission.
Cyanogen is upset that Google has exerted a bit more control over Android, by doing things such as requiring manufacturers to feature Google apps on devices. Cyanogen wants Android to go back to its original open-source roots that didn’t have such requirements. CyanogenMod does that, and it’s being powered by an employed team at Cyanogen and a volunteer community of 9,000 developers, all working to create and spread a truly open-source version of Android.
While it’s unusual, Cyanogen’s goal helps explain why Microsoft would invest in the company. Windows Phone (or Windows 10 on phones) has spent the last few years struggling to gain market share. Consequently, Microsoft has shifted much of its mobile focus to getting its software and services onto other platforms. Microsoft realizes that Cyanogen has huge potential to grow, and thus wants to encourage that, in order to further the spread of its software. Growth in Cyanogen would also likely spark losses in usage of Android, which Microsoft likely wouldn’t be upset about.
Neither company has commented on the matter.