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Cyanogen, Micromax Announce Partnership And A New Device

November 18, 2014 - Written By David Steele

Cyanogen, the business behind custom Android firmware, Cyanogenmod, has formally announced a deal with India’s second largest smartphone manufacturer, Micromax. We’ve already reported this deal as a rumor and it’s great to see Cyanogen branching out. In simple terms, the deal is for Micromax to build the hardware and Cyanogen to build the operating system and they’re aiming for mid-range devices, where Cyanogen believes it can add value. Cyanogen Chief Executive, Kirt McMaster, had this to say on the deal, “We can really make an inexpensive device seem like a much more premium-level device. We’re masters at that. The OEM may have last stopped supporting a device with Gingerbread, and we have Kit Kat running on those same devices.” And it’s certainly true: my first experimentation with custom firmware was to install Cyanogenmod onto a Samsung Galaxy S several months before Samsung decided to bring Android Gingerbread to the device without the junk value-added applications that Samsung decided I needed to have in my life.

A little over a year ago, Cyanogen was commercialized. At the time – and still to this day – the community are divided about this decision to make Cyanogen a business, but I need to write that with this deal, Cyanogen are able to get their operating system even more out there in the field. OnePlus probably wouldn’t be where they are today without Cyanogen software. Micromax must be wanting a slice of this action, but backed up by their ability to manufacture plenty of devices. Cyanogen’s war chest of around $30 million is helping their business and commercial ambitions but let’s not discredit the work of Cyanogen fans: it was a 17-year old who first put Cyanogenmod software onto an Android One device. To coincide with the announcement, Micromax is to launch a new brand of handsets called YU that will run Cyanogen OS. As such, the YU devices will be competitors for Android One, which we’ve already read is struggling. We don’t have any information about the new YU devices other than it’ll cost less than the OnePlus One and it’ll be announced next month.

The deal will make very little direct impact, if any, outside of the developing smartphone markets. It will, however, provide both Cyanogen and Micromax experience of working with a slightly different class of device. Cyanogen’s “Android plus” reputation should stand it in good stead. Cyanogen’s reputation for not including any bloat may be tested by their new business partner if they attempt to bundle in additional services and applications, but it appears that Cyanogen’s decision to go commercial is going to be successful.