Cyanogen, Android's supposed killer, is dead in the water

On Christmas eve, when most companies and services were greeting their customers and showering goodies on them, Cyanogen dropped a bombshell out of nowhere. The company announced closure of all services and builds no later than 31st December.

Cyanogen's unexpected closure means that all Wileyfox phone users in the UK will need to migrate to Android OS at the earliest.

As a custom operating system, CyanogenOS was once on its way to become among the top alternatives to Google's Android OS thanks to partnerships with the likes of Wileyfox, OnePlus and India's Micromax. However, things gradually soured leading up to its closure a few days ago. According to Steve Kondik, who was instrumental in turning Cyanogen from an open source project to a full fledged custom OS, the decline resulted from a few bad business deals inked by ex-CEO Kirt McMaster earlier this year.

As things stand, the Cyanogen team have now shut down their Seattle office, leaving their Palo Alto office as their sole brick and mortar hideout. The team also had to fire a few of their staff who couldn't relocate from Seattle and the move has probably saved some much needed money for them to consolidate and improve their efficiency. Cyanogen are now dedicating their efforts towards a new Lineage OS project which will borrow heavily from the CyanogenMod project.

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"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," says a statement which appeared on the Cyanogen website.

"The purpose of the change is to improve the communication and performance of the team which will now operate under one roof. This consolidation effort will allow us to build in greater efficiencies and reduce restrictions in our product development lifecycle," said Lior Tal in the Cyanogen blog. "With these changes, Cyanogen has separated ties with Steve Kondik, allowing him to continue to forge his path as he sees fit. We wish him the best of luck in his next venture."

While Cyanogen's untimely demise may not have ruffled Google's feathers much, it is still sad given how much the project had progressed over the years and had several new ideas in the pipeline. However, the project was very much dependent on being adopted by OEMs and the fallout with rising star OnePlus earlier this year could have dealt the killer blow. In India, CyanogenOS was adopted by a local OEM named Micromax which, earlier this year, toppled Sony Mobile and Microsoft to feature among the top twelve global smartphone makers. Micromax is expected to sell as many as 25 million smartphones by the end of the calendar year.

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Following Cyanogen's announcement, Wileyfox has sought to cool nerves of its consumers by stating that user experience will remain unchanged despite Cyanogen's demise. The company will shortly roll out system updates to its devices to revert them from Cyanogen to a purer version of Android.

"We strongly recommend that all current and future users accept the upcoming update request to ensure they are on-boarded for the future. This will include the ability to maintain the same experience as before and the added ability to partake in updates and upgrades to the software in the future. We will continue to push this update to your device, and for new users we again recommend they download and install this update upon purchase," said Wileyfox.

"We have been ruthlessly testing this and planning a distribution for this update, with a rollout to be released today with immediate effect. Once this transition is implemented and users accept this upcoming update, our first order of business is to focus on delivering Android Nougat 7.0 across the portfolio beginning as early as February, and the entire portfolio by end of Q1 2017. We value our customers above anything else, and therefore will now take full direct control on all such upgrades to ensure all devices, not just the flagship’s, will get these regular updates," the manufacturer added.

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