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Will cash injection make CyanogenMod the next big mobile OS?


The "clean" version of Android gets a boost from some well-known investors

Cyanogen – the company that is effectively attempting to reclaim Android from Google – has been given a sizeable cash injection. The firm has raised $80 million from a number of high-profile investors, raising hopes of Cyanogen becoming a serious player in the mobile market. 

CyanogenMod is already popular in techy circles, allowing users to effectively overwrite the variant of Android installed by their manufacturer – with all of its pre-installed apps and customisations – with a “clean” version of Android. Cyanogen has made good progress in making the installation procedure easier over the years, but fears over bricking handsets and invalidating manufacturer warranties mean that it remains a niche OS.

Cyanogen has now managed to raise $80 million in venture capital funding, however, improving the company’s prospects of breaking into the mainstream. Not only does Cyanogen allow users to install their own OS, it also providers a version of CyanogenMod that can be pre-installed on handsets by manufacturers. The financing could help the company strike further deals with Android phone manufacturers, which will naturally be of particular concern to Google.

Cyanogen strips Google’s pre-installed apps and services from the phone, effectively cutting the search giant out of the operating system that it invented and continues to nurture. Android’s open-source licence allows companies such as Cyanogen to modify and distribute their own versions of the OS. 

The list of companies and individuals backing Cyanogen is impressive. Twitter Ventures, Telefonica (currently the owner of O2), chip manufacturer Qualcomm and Rupert Murdoch (no fan of Google himself) were among the investors in the latest round of funding. 

Some investors believe Cyanogen could become a genuine threat to the Android and iOS duopoly. “We invested in Cyanogen because we’re big proponents of what they’re doing in opening up Android and supporting global and local ecosystem players,” said Premji Invest technology’s Sandesh Patnam. “Cyanogen is well positioned to become the third leading mobile OS, and we’re excited to back them in growing their business on a global scale.”

The company has raised a total of $110 million over different rounds of funding, but that’s petty cash to the two companies it’s competing with: Apple and Google. Apple recently became the most profitable company ever and has almost $200 billion in cash reserves, whilst Google made around $4 billion in net profit in the last quarter alone. David and Goliath looks like an even contest, by comparison… 


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