CyanogenMod has been around for the last seven years and it is the most popular and recognizable of all third party custom Android software out there. In the last few (3 to be exact) years, the open source effort has matured to a startup backed by big name investors and with ambitions to even upset Google, Cyanogen Inc.
So far, CyanogenMod and the company, Cyanogen Inc, have managed to peacefully co-exist with the former continuing to be a fully community-driven open source effort while the latter has gone fully commercial and concentrated its efforts on producing stable builds for straight-out-of-the-factory devices like OnePlus’ first generation device and Wileyfox’s smartphones.
However, last week, word went round that all was not well at Cyanogen Inc and that the company was laying off some of its staff while also exploring a shift from solely making commercial versions of its Android-based firmware to developing applications as well. Several days later, the company’s leadership, namely co-founder Steve Kondik and outspoken CEO Kirt McMaster, have come out publicly to deny the existence of any plans to “pivot to apps” while acknowleding that some staff members had been let go. Earlier reports had indicated that Cyanogen Inc was parting ways with 30 of its 136 employees, 20% of its workforce.
“CyanogenMod isn’t going anywhere, nor has Cyanogen Inc discontinued its efforts towards the goal of bringing it to a larger audience,” writes Mr Kondik in a blog post meant to set the record straight.
McMaster took to Twitter to brush aside the reports.
Cyanogen NOT pivoting to apps. We are an OS company and our mission of creating an OPEN ANDROID stands. FALSE reporting was outstanding.
— Kirt McMaster (@cyanogenone) July 25, 2016
There was never doubt that CyanogenMod would remain unaffected by any turbulence that Cyanogen Inc may be going through at the moment but it is great that there is reassurance from the top-most quarters.
Cyanogen Inc has notably failed to attract any big name brands to its “alternative Android” platform, Cyanogen OS. Cyanogen OS was being fronted by the company as a way for device makers to build Android smartphones without having to rely entirely on Google. They even included a complete suite of alternate preloaded software to rival Google’s own software. Even Microsoft came on board as the Cyanogen Inc team set out to “put a bullet through Google’s head”. McMaster is famously quoted saying, “We are going to detract Android from Google.” Well, look at how that panned out.
It is still too early to have a clear picture of what is going on at Cyanogen Inc and what transpires in coming days will be interesting to watch.