Microsoft is investing in a sensational OS startup Cyanogen, according to a report, which also says the company will only invest $70 million. Many other companies are also eager to invest in Cyanogen. It's all being done apparently with a purpose: to diminish Google's monopoly in the mobile operating system platform.
But will it be that easy?
Several major and small mobile phone manufacturers are already working with Google for years. Thousands of different Google Android smartphones are already available, while several hundred are in the pipeline. Google has created a huge ecosystem with its apps, utilities and free cloud service. The integration of all these together becomes such a formidable combination that majority of users feel the term 'search engine' is synonymous with Google and email to Gmail.
Actually, the ecosystem has suffered yesterday's software monster Microsoft by hammering down their search engine service, browser service and their apple-of-eye Hotmail alias Live email service.
Though Microsoft hasn't confirmed about the investment in Cyanogen, we believe this is the last resort for the company hit back at Google. Here's how.
CyanoGen developed their Android ROM CyanogenMod on the Google-released official version of Android but it is a free and open source software with added original and third-party code. The CyanogenMod has become very strong by releasing regular updates adding more stability, security and features. It supports several features like native theming, FLAC audio codec , OpenVPN, privacy Guard and tethering support over common interfaces.
CyanogenMod does not contain spyware or bloatware, according to its developers. CyanogenMod is also stated to increase performance and reliability compared with official firmware releases.
It should be said here that only a section of CyanogenMod users elect to report their use of the firmware. As of June 2014, CyanogenMod recorded over 12 million active installs on a multitude of devices.
Google compels its ROM users to feature Google Apps on their phones and Google search as the default search engine. The increasing number of Android smartphone users has strengthened Google's monopoly. On the contrary, Bing is only featured as default search engine for Microsoft Windows based desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. After investing in Cyanogen, Microsoft can ask them to feature Bing as a default search engine and Spartan as the stock browser.
After acquiring the Lumia brand from Nokia, Microsoft became the sole owner of Lumia smartphone brand. However, Nokia surprisingly hit back with a new Android based tablet Z1 in the market. Now there are rumours that Nokia is also working on several Android smartphones and may release them soon. If so, then Nokia will be the biggest potential threat for Microsoft, as a major chunk of Nokia's loyal consumers can switch from Lumia phones and this will spell disaster for Microsoft Lumia. Investing in CyanogenMod can give Microsoft the same or little less platform strength like Google and impress users.
Apple's voice assistant SIRI and Google's 'Ok Google' are perhaps the most flaunted voice assistant features on the smart devices. The Google Now allows you to find anything you want by voice messages. Going one step further, SIRI allows users to ask more natural questions and get replies. However, Google Now is slightly faster and more responsive than Apple's SIRI.
Microsoft's reply to both the giants is Cortana, alias an Artificial Intelligence driven voice assistant service. The service has some real potential but still lacks popularity for the monopoly of Google Android and Apple iOS. With a similar open platform and pool of app support, Cyanogen can be the most potential armour for them to make Cortana a superstar.
Despite of the great software integration between Google made applications like Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Hangouts, Calendar and Keep, the monster has not been able to crack Microsoft's business in desktops and laptops. It released Chromebook as a solution but got mixed reaction from users.
Microsoft has recently announced tighter integration than ever, with Windows 10 OS update between all the Windows based devices. That may make Google Android users to look at it for a moment, but that won't be able to convince a consumer to throw away an Android phone and buy a Windows one. But, what if Microsoft offers similar levels of software integration with another non Google based Android platform?
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Acquiring big ROM developer like Cyanogen will also help Microsoft create an Amazon like app store with cross-platform applications. If they compel Cyanogen to feature the same on the future CyanogenMod Rom's, that can bring huge success for Windows maker. And if they offer the similar universal apps on the Android platform they announced few days ago, that can impress Windows users along with some Android evangelists too.