Microsoft rumored to be investing in Google Android rival Cyanogen

Update: Bloomberg Business is now corroborating the earlier WSJ story, adding that the two companies are in talks to create "a version of the Android mobile-operating system that's more friendly to Microsoft services".

Original Story: According to the WSJ, Microsoft may be one of a handful of companies investing in Cyanogen. Cyanogen started off as a customized version of the Android operating system named CyanogenMod back in 2009 but has grown to a business of 80 people named Cyanogen, Inc. starting in 2013. The company co-launched their version of the Android OS on the OnePlus One smartphone in 2014.

Now, Cyanogen is looking for money, and Microsoft is reportedly putting cash into the company as a minority investor.

Satya Nadella

Microsoft's intent of such an investment, if accurate, would be to de-stabilize Android by loosening Google's grip on the OS. In recent years, Google has increasingly put more and more of their services into the OS as a single package, forcing manufacturers to release phones as all-or-nothing Google devices. Manufacturers who veered from this path risked being ostracized to the Android Open-Source Project.

Indeed, Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen's chief executive, recently said this in an interview:

"We're going to take Android away from Google."

Such a strategy by Microsoft could be a win-win. As the old saying goes 'The enemy of my enemy is my friend'. Besides helping Cyanogen 'take Android away from Google', Microsoft could angle to get their services preloaded onto future builds of the OS, including Bing, Nokia's HERE Maps, Outlook, Office, and more. Cyanogen also desperately need a proper store for their apps, since they cannot use the one on Google Play. Perhaps Microsoft could also provide some assistance there as well.

Regardless, for now this is still filed as a rumor. Microsoft and Cyanogen both declined to comment to the WSJ on the report. However, we would not put it past Microsoft to go for such a plan of attack.

Source: WSJ Online

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.