RIP, Cyanogen

Posted on December 26, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 13 Comments

RIP, Cyanogen

Cyanogen announced over the holiday weekend that it is shutting down. The firm was once seen as a potential inroad for Microsoft in mobile.

“As part of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16,” Cyanogen announced Friday evening.

Cyanogen was once seen as a major alternative to Google in the Android space. That is, they forked the free version of Android and created an offshoot of that OS which was completely free, unlike the version Google sells to device makers.

So why do we care about that here? Because Cyanogen was once part of Microsoft’s mobile strategy: In April 2015, the software giant announced that it was partnering with Cyanogen to integrate Microsoft apps and services across its open Android OS. In September 2015, it even announced it would add Cortana.

If this had been successful, Microsoft might have had an interesting alternative future in which this free and open Android OS, called Cyanogenmod, formed the basis of a new way forward. And who knows? Microsoft might have even taken that and made its own Android OS, replacing Windows Mobile.

But that isn’t going to happen. As it turns out, Cyanogen has been in trouble financially pretty much forever. In July, the firm tried to deny these troubles, but starting last month it could no longer hide the issues, and it started laying off staff and consolidating.

Now, it’s over. In the good news department, sort of, work on Cyanogen will continue with a much smaller team under the name LineageOS.

“LineageOS will be a continuation of what CyanogenMod was,” the new team explains. “To quote Andy Rubin, this is the definition of open. A company pulling their support out of an open source project does not mean it has to die.”

True. But it’s also fair to say that LineageOS will almost certainly never achieve the hype or promise of CyanogenMod either. I suspect this will be just as successful as the Amiga or webOS in their own final chapters.

RIP, CyanogenMod. We barely knew you, but we will always wonder about what might have been.


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