Microsoft Corporation’s (MSFT) “Strategic” Cyanogen Partnership Manifests Into Platform Integration

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The move, which Microsoft announced via a blog post, was an expected one given Cyanogen’s strong desire to break away from Google’s stranglehold on the Android market

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has essentially got its bases covered when it comes to Android via its strategic partnership with Android-based OS developer, Cyanogen. Despite essentially being branded as another has-been in the industry, when it comes to the smartphone market, Microsoft has pivoted its position from being badged as simply the company behind the failed Windows Phone ecosystem into one that makes a significantly important part of user experience and provides an alternative to the mainstream iOS from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Android from Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL).

Part of its strategy involves looking for an opening within the ecosystem and while iOS is a dead end because of the way Apple categorically controls the system from the software to the hardware, giving Microsoft limited leeway, Android, in its open-source flavor, has a lot of potential for Microsoft via strategic partnerships with developers who have been working on their own version of the OS while sharing the free-of-cost underlying software.

Two of these include China-based Xiaomi and custom OS team Cyanogen. Microsoft chose to enter a strategic partnership with Cyanogen after the latter raised nearly $80 million to continue funding its platform as an alternate flavor of android. Given the fact that Cyanogen, despite its many modifications, tends to push past the standard software which Google adds to Android-based phones via its OEM partners (some users go far enough to call it bloatware or crapware, indicating it should not have a de facto presence).

Since much of the apps by Google are somewhat relevant to those being used by most smartphone users, Cyanogen needed an alternative which could potentially give it some financial benefits. Microsoft, seeing this as a potential to “hijack” Android by manipulating its open-source nature, readily complied. Slightly over an year later, Cyanogen’s most recent release, Cyanogen version 13.1, was compiled and built for the OnePlus One, which has integrated MOD, a mobile platform that allows various apps to generate lightweight experiences for consumers.

More importantly, the current release essentially amalgamates MOD support for Skype, OneNote as well as an updated version of the Cortana Mod, something that indicates that both sides are committed to their attempts of building a credible alternative to Google’s Android. Cyanogen, in its current iteration, is essentially a highly-modded and optimized edition of Android and while it maintains its position as a community modification, it has, to some degree, moved away from its position of essentially getting rid of all bloatware with significant first and third-party support available to partners, of whom Microsoft is key. Cyanogen’s latest update showing up as part of Microsoft’s blog only indicates that Microsoft is more than aware of its current position, but is attempting to get market share in the mobile industry to prove an indispensable partner for already-successful entities in the market.

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