Expect more Cyanogen phones from Chinese vendors

Cyanogen wants to help Chinese smartphone vendors go global

The Cyanogen logo.

The Cyanogen logo.

Cyanogen, the maker of an Android-based operating system, is hoping it can expand with the help of Chinese handset vendors with global ambitions.

The U.S. company has over 50 million users of its CyanogenMod, which is a modified version of Android that can be installed on smartphones manually. But it's hoping to proliferate the OS even more, by partnering with Chinese companies to release phones that come with the software.

"It's a great way for them to build some identity outside of China using a brand that's already reasonably well known," said Kirt McMaster, the company's CEO.

McMaster made the comment Tuesday in Beijing at the Global Mobile Internet Conference. Although the company's executives declined to name specific vendors, they said the phones would target the international market, and not mainland China, where competition is already heated.

China has over 100 smartphone brands, both small and large, and some of them are moving to the international market.

Last year, Cyanogen helped OnePlus, a Chinese handset maker, design a critically-acclaimed phone that used its software.

Among the features available with CyanogenMod, is the option to change the look of the user interface, with a wide selection of themes. OnePlus's flagship phone shipped close to 1 million phones at the end of last year.

"Without Cyanogen, OnePlus would have sold like one device in international markets," McMaster said in an interview. "Essentially they built their brand on the back of Cyanogen."

The OnePlus success also showed other Chinese vendors that CyanogenMod could open doors to the global market. A number of these vendors are larger companies than OnePlus, but struggling in international markets to develop visible brands, and want help, he added.

It's a good sign for Cyanogen, which also managed to bring on board Microsoft as a partner this month. But as for OnePlus, its ties with Cyanogen are probably ending.

Earlier this month OnePlus launched its own custom Android ROM, built with a simple interface that could replace the CyanogenMod. The change means that OnePlus can offer "faster, more meaningful updates", according to the Chinese company. Cyanogen, however, will continue offering support to OnePlus phones still running its OS.

Steve Kondik, Cyanogen's chief technology officer, said the company's goals for software didn't align with OnePlus. "That's probably the last you will see from that partnership unfortunately," he said. "Two new companies are trying to do crazy stuff, a lot of people collide."

McMaster added that some vendors have the "delusion" that creating an Android "skin" will let them compete against Apple. But Cyanogen wants to do more with its own software, and integrate cutting edge non-Google services with the OS.

In an email, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei said its partnership with Cyanogen was "mutually beneficial," although the two companies appear to be taking different paths in the near term.

"We wouldn't be where we are today without this joint effort," Pei added.

Cyanogen executives said they wished OnePlus the best, but they're quickly moving on to new opportunities.

"OnePlus shipped reasonable volume, but nothing compared to what some of these other partners can ship," McMaster said. "So we are working with partners that can scale much quicker."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobilesmartphonesAndroidconsumer electronicsCyanogenMobile OSes

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?