Cyanogen, creators of the most popular Android ROM, have recently announced that they have just hit the 50 million user barrier, surpassing Windows Phone and Blackberry numbers combined. Adnan Begovic, a popular Cyanogen employee, has dropped this bombshell at the Seattle Code Rush, where he blew everyone’s minds with this amazing accomplishment. The news is even more surprising when you take into account that CyanogenMod isn’t even a standalone platform, but a modified version of Android. However, as great as these numbers might seem to the average man, in order to truly appreciate this achievement, we need to look back at the platform’s humble beginnings.
The Start of Something Great
CyanogenMod was born back in September 2008, after Android users discovered root access through an exploit on the HTC Dream phone. Having root access, modified firmwares for the HTC Dream started being developed and distributed on the Internet by Android enthusiasts, each one envisioning a better future for the platform.
Amongst these enthusiasts was an ambitious user called JesusFreke, who decided to create his own take on the beloved mobile platform. Typing lines after lines of code, little did he know that he was about to create a true legend of the mobile world. His firmware quickly grew in popularity, and before he knew it, JesusFreke became a fan favorite. In August 2009, JesusFreke ceased development of his firmware, and suggested fans to switch to a version of his ROM which was created with the help of another developer, “Cyanogen”. The name of the new ROM? CyanogenMod.
It wasn’t long before a team of developers took a liking to this ROM, and started improving it. Within a few months, CyanogenMod blossomed, and was made available to a broad variety of Android devices.
Cyanogen for Sale
Since then, CyanogenMod has gone through a lot of improvements and versions, evolving along with the platform it was based on, Android. Each time Google added a new feature to its OS, the CyanogenMod Team added it to their firmware before there was even a demand for it.
This kind of dedication and devotion to their firmware and fans led to the creation of Cyanogen Inc, a venture funded company with offices in Seattle and Palo Alto, California. This news didn’t sit too well with die-hard fans of the project, many of them being worried about the imminent commercialization of the open-source operating system. However, the controversy behind this didn’t seem to scare off investors or business partners, and the developers themselves were unfazed. Therefore, work on Cyanogen OS, a version of the mod designed for commercial use, was quickly completed.
It didn’t take long until business partners started loading Cyanogen OS as the default operating system on their mobile devices, with phones such as OnePlus One and Andromax Q being the trend setters.
The Reason for the (Open-Source) Season
Now that you know how CyanogenMod started, it’s important to know the “why” as well. JesusFreke started out humble, just as thousands of other enthusiasts who set out to create their own Android version. What was it that made the difference, then? JesusFreke didn’t have any superpowers or visions of the future. What he had, though, was a good grasp on the state of the market at that time. Sure, after the discovery of the root access, it was fairly easy for an experienced programmer to add the features he wanted. What was not easy, though, was to add features that the regular Android user wanted, and that’s where JesusFreke succeeded.
While others were too busy making Android a better experience for themselves, our beloved developer put himself in the shoes of an end-user, and strived to make the experience better for everyone. This quickly gained him the adulation of the public, and this went on to fuel the success for Cyanogen Inc. With a killer understanding of the user base and the support of millions of people, it’s not exactly hard to see why Cyanogen OS was so attractive for a large number of smartphone companies.
Another huge reason for their success is due to the manufacturers. Many users of CyanogenMod are installing it because their device manufacturer has dropped support and ceased updating their firmware. With no updates and a lot of shortcomings in most firmwares, people become quickly attracted to CyanogenMod.
The Present, and What’s to Come
At the moment, Cyanogen keeps getting funded by various investors and we don’t expect that to stop any time soon. In the mean time, Cyanogen’s deal with OnePlus has ended, but they currently expect to strike deals with larger Chinese partners soon. With a plethora of investors and a lot of confidence, Cyanogen is currently hiring high-class talent in order to create a brighter future for the Android user base.
Their plans don’t end here, either. Cyanogen CEO, Kirt McMaster, has recently announced plans of a “Google-less smartphone”, which would ideally be manufactured by hardware company “Blu”. “We’re putting a bullet through Google’s head” McMaster has stated, in a recent interview with Forbes.
Whether or not their plans will succeed, their vision of the future is ideal, as Google’s domination over Android is not necessarily a good thing. At the moment, we can only root for them and hope that their hatred for Google and their recent success doesn’t take them off their initial track.