Samsung and HTC are not great software companies. We don’t think Xiaomi is great either, because even their MIUI was (originally) built atop Cyanogen. We don’t have a legacy, we don’t carry inventory and we don’t make radiators. We have 50 million users globally, and if you aggregate our China users, 95 million. MIUI has 72 million. We support 250-plus devices in 90-plus countries, while they support 4 devices in a few countries. And we’re doing all of this with just over 80 employees and $30 million in funding so far compared to their 3,000 plus and they’ve raised nearly $1.5 billion. Shows how you can do much more damage when you’re a pure-play software company.
We’ll be 200-plus people by 2015 and sometime within the next two to two-and-a-half years as big as Google’s (Android) OS team. We’re building a full blown OS and not just a ROM. We already control everything from apps to the kernel layer and we will do more than even Google when it comes to kernel too. In five years, when you look at Apple, Android and Cyanogen — there will be a huge difference. We will be hugely different.
— Kirt McMaster, the chief executive of Cyanogen.
Five years is a long, long time in the tech world. And I wouldn’t count out Xiaomi and MIUI so cavalierly.
It’s on. Bring it.
Second same-day update: Meet Cyanogen, The Startup That Wants To Steal Android From Google
With a bit of a bombshell inside:
The first true expression of McMaster’s vision should come later this year in a phone being made by Blu. The Miami company has become one of the most popular phonemakers in Latin America; its phones are sold in the U.S. through Wal-Mart and Best Buy and are among the bestselling unlocked phones on Amazon. Blu says it will launch the first Cyanogen phone that will be stripped of Google’s suite of mobile apps. While Samuel Ohev-Zion, Blu’s CEO, says all the details have not yet been worked out, he envisions a phone that will use Amazon’s app store, the Opera Web browser, Nokia Here for maps, Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive for cloud storage and Spotify for music. It would also have Bing for search and Microsoft’s Cortana as a replacement for Google’s voice assistant. “When these other apps are deeply integrated into the phone, most of the time they perform better than the Google apps,” says Ohev-Zion.
Blu’s phones have intrigued me. I’ve researched some of them as late as last night. But they always seem to contain one very irritating compromise of some sort (for example, the otherwise lust-inducing Studio 6.0 LTE has a gorgeous full-HD screen puzzlingly married to an underpowered Snapdragon 400!). They better not compromise with this new phone.