Cyanogen wants to take Android away from Google, and it looks like Microsoft is more than happy to help it along with a US$70 million investment in the company. While the amount makes Redmond a minority investor in the company, there is a sense that Microsoft would like nothing more than to loosen Google’s grip on the world’s most widespread operating system.
The report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that neither Microsoft nor Cyanogen has commented on the issue, but speculation is rife. Windows Phone currently owns a tiny percentage of the world smartphone market, and Windows 10 is unlikely to gain that much ground in the short term. Microsoft would have an easier time pushing its software and services to mobile devices if Android wasn’t so tightly controlled by a rival company.
Android was originally intended to be an open-source operating system that any developer could adapt for their own uses. However, recent versions of Android have increasingly pushed Google apps and services as a required part of the OS; not to mention the increasingly walled off parts that Google claims is not part of the open-licence for the code.
Many Chinese smartphone manufacturers already implement customised versions of Android that do not use Google services, mostly out of necessity as the internet giant is blocked by the Great Firewall of China. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see Cyanogen managing to reduce Google’s hold on Android, considering that it is already popular with enthusiasts who install it over their phone’s original operating system.
This would also be a huge opening for Microsoft to promote services like OneDrive, Office 365, and Skype in the absence of Google’s solutions.
The small investment, however, seems to indicate that Microsoft is simply hedging its bets in this situation. Redmond still has Windows 10 for smartphones due later this year, and will be hoping that this new OS will reverse the fortunes of Windows Phone.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]