Cyanogen failed to kill Android, now it is shuttering its services and OS as part of a pivot

August 21, 2018

Its been a rocky few monthsfor Cyanogen, the ambitious startup that aimed to build a better version of Android than Google. It has laid off staff, let go of its CEO and parted wayswith another co-founder now it is shutting down its services and nightly software builds on December 31.

The news was announced ina brief blog post released late on Friday:

As part of the ongoing consolidation of Cyanogen, all services and Cyanogen-supported nightly builds will be discontinued no later than 12/31/16. The open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod personally.

This update means owners of a device that runs the Cyanogen OS such as the OnePlus One must now transition over to the CyanogenMod ROM, which is not a commercial product and is managed by a community of developers led by former co-founder Steve Klondik.

This essentially marks the end ofCyanogens grand ambition. Outspoken former CEO Kirt McMaster once claimedhis company was putting a bullet through Googles head, but now it is transitioning to a different approach that new CEOLior Tal believes will be more attractive to OEMs.

Tal, who was previously Cyanogen COO, described the new Cyanogen Modular OS programas designed to achieve the original objective of an open and smarter Android without the limitations of requiring the full Cyanogen OS stack and individual device bring-ups.

Essentially, Cyanogen has given up on killing Google and will instead adaptto live in Googles world.

Its softwarewas always a hard sell because it requiredhandset makers to ditch Android and Google services entirely in favor of Cyanogens own alternatives. Then there was the politics. OnePlus was Cyanogens largest partner, but the relationship was strained and it ended on a sour note after just one device.

Now that these Cyanogenservices are dying, Tals strategy is to unbundle what the Cyanogen OS did offer so that it can work in conjunction with regular Android builds and the stock services that Google provides with it.

The new partnership program offers smartphone manufacturers greater freedom and opportunity to introduce intelligent, customizable Android smartphones using different parts of the Cyanogen OS via dynamic modules and MODs, with the ROM of their choice, whether stock Android or their own variant, Tal said in a statement in October when he took his new role.

Cyanogen has raised $115 million to date from investors that include Andreessen Horowitz and Benchmark, according to Crunchbase. Tal said in late Novemberthat the company is well funded, yet it has spent half of the year in cost-cutting mode. It mademade layoffsoverthe summer and recently shuttered its Seattle office in order to consolidate its workforce into one team based out of its base in Palo Alto. The closureof its services is a further cost-saving move that fits with itspivot to make itmore accessible and less of commitment for prospective partners.The question now is whether it can offer anything that partners actually want and will pay for.

Hat tip @ow

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