OnePlus officially began selling its One smartphone in India today, but it will not come with any future software updates. In a massive blow to OnePlus’ operations in the country, its software partner, Cyanogen, has inked a deal with a rival smartphone company to exclusively support its smartphones – leaving OnePlus in a lurch.
What was originally a very close partnership between the Chinese startup and the company known for its popular Android ROM now appears to be close to falling apart. On November 26, exactly one week before OnePlus was to kick start its Indian adventure, Cyanogen announced an exclusive partnership with YU, a spin off from Indian smartphone company Micromax which was just announced on 18 November, where the custom ROM will be pre-installed on all YU-branded smartphones.
In a blog post to describe the situation to its Indian fans, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei had a very telling statement:
We can’t explain Cyanogen’s decision because we don’t fully understand it ourselves.
Cyanogen’s partnership with YU means that only YU-branded smartphones will be officially supported by Cyanogen in the country. As a result, all OnePlus One smartphones sold in India will not have any OTA updates beyond what is installed on the device – which is obviously a bad thing, since the ROM prides itself in offering quick and regular software updates. This is especially worse in India, where its mobile consumers have proven to be one of the most demanding anywhere in the world.
For now, OnePlus has re-allocated resources into its in-house Android team, which will now be tasked with fast-tracking its own custom Android-based software for the One. Originally, this team was set up to develop a new ROM for the company’s next flagship smartphone, but OnePlus has wasted no time in reacting to the situation. It is also good news for OnePlus owners in India too: the first community build is expected to be ready this month, and will be based on Android 5.0. It is said to be “fast, light and stable” an will have a production-ready build in February.
Fortunately for OnePlus, this issue is limited only to OnePlus One owners in India. Cyanogen will still be supporting the One in the other markets for another year. But the way things are going, we won’t be surprised if OnePlus bids goodbye to Cyanogen in the near future.