Microsoft will be putting its money into the makers of Android ROM CyanogenMod, sources told Wall Street Journal yesterday. Microsoft will be a “minority investor” in a $70 million investment round, the report states, valuing Cyanogen Inc in the “hundreds of millions”.
Sources told Bloomberg, adding that their current round of financing could value Cyanogen at $500 million, and that Microsoft could strike a commercial partnership with Cyanogen.
The move could become a means for Microsoft to introduce their apps and services on a platform that currently has 50 million users. The investment could help break Android’s dominance in the smartphone OS market, where it carved a 84% market share in Q3 2014.
Kirt McMaster, CEO of Cyanogen Inc has made no bones about taking on Google’s hegemony over the mobile OS. “I’m the CEO of Cyanogen. We’re attempting to take Android away from Google.” he said at an event in San Francisco last week, adding that Cyanogen would have its own app store in 18 months.
He elaborated on how how apps like Google Now could not be built by third-party app developers on Android or iOS. “Everybody else exists in these sandboxes with no access to the lower levels of the [operating system] kernel.”
Cyanogen's ROM can be flashed on a wide range of Android smartphones. The OS is currently being used by two smartphone brands - OnePlus One and Yu Yureka.