As much as we've wanted to believe that Cyanogen wasn't going to fork Android, like Amazon has. It looks like it's happening. This afternoon, Forbes broke the news that Cyanogen is working with Florida-based BLU Products, on a new smartphone that will be running Cyanogen OS, but will not have Google apps. This comes on the same day that Cyanogen announced $80 million worth of funding in the latest round of funding. Now the company is valued at about $1 billion. Not bad for a company that was born from an open-source ROM that was created so Steve Kondik could tinker with the Android source.
Cyanogen's CEO, the very outspoken Kirt McMaster, recently said in an interview with Forbes, "We're putting a bullet through Google's head." McMaster sat down with Forbes and laid out his plans for Cyanogen over a few different interviews. And we should actually see the first part of his vision come to reality later this year. With their newest partner BLU. Which is one of many partners that took part in the last round of funding (which includes the likes of Twitter and Qualcomm).
For those that don't know who BLU is, it's a smartphone company based in Miami, Florida. We've reviewed a number of their devices already, but they make and sell rather cheap smartphones. Some running AOSP, some of their higher-end stuff runs on their own skinned version of Android BLU is really popular in South America, but have been gaining popularity here in the US, selling their devices through the likes of Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Amazon, and others. All of their phones are unlocked, and retail for $350 or less.
BLU has said that their first Cyanogen smartphone will be stripped of Google's suite of mobile apps. However, BLU's CEO, Samuel Ohev-Zion has stated that not all the details have been worked out, and he envisions a smartphone that will use Amazon's app store, Opera for web browsing and Nokia's HERE maps. Other notable apps replacing Google apps would be Dropbox and OneDrive as well as Spotify. We're also hearing that it'll have Microsoft Cortana, so it looks like the rumors about Cortana were true. For search, you've got Bing, which might just be the next best thing from Google Search. Ohev-Zion also stated "when these other apps are deeeply integrated into the phone, most of the time they perform better than the Google apps." Ouch.
The only question I have here, is will this smartphone have LTE? And will it be high-end. A lot of BLU's smartphones do not have 4G LTE capability. A lot of them are using MediaTek chips as well, which a lot of the lower-end models only do HSPA+. Hopefully we get a nice high-end smartphone out of BLU here with Cyanogen OS on top.