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Android Businesses Open Source Build

Cyanogen Mod Goes Commercial To Make "Available On Everything, To Everyone" 230

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the live-long-and-profit dept.
The popular Cyanogen Mod distribution of the Android Open Source Project dropped a bombshell today: the founding members have formed a corporation (currently with a team of seventeen hackers) to work on the project with the founder of Boost Mobile as the CEO. Quoting the announcement: "You have probably seen the pace of development pick up drastically over the past few months. More devices supported, bigger projects such as CM Account, Privacy Guard, Voice+, a new version of Superuser, and secure messaging. We vastly improved our infrastructure. We’re doing more bug fixes, creating more features, and improving our communication. We think that the time has come for your mobile device to truly be yours again, and we want to bring that idea to everybody. ... So what does this all mean for the community? The first thing I wanted to do when I realized we were actually doing this, was tell everyone possible. But when starting a company, you have to think about the larger picture. This meant not announcing until the time was right, our house was in order and we would have something to show. I have seen open source projects come and go, some being bought out and closed, others stagnating and falling by the wayside. I don’t want to see this happen with CM."
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Cyanogen Mod Goes Commercial To Make "Available On Everything, To Everyone"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:51PM (#44884999)

    cyanogenmod is OVER!

    • by thsths (31372)

      They may have picked up the pace, but they also dropped all the devices I own. So for me, this is a non-issue.

      I am tempted by the Nexus because of the high resolution screen, but I really want an SD card slot, and dual SIM if possible. Anything like that supported by CM?

      • I've got an S3, but it's only got the one SIM card. It's easily accessible though.

        What Cyanogenmod is missing is Bluetooth support. They have the basic functions down, but they redid the stack to be technically correct and now it doesn't work. They're waiting for Google to release some future API in a supposedly-upcoming release.

        Also, GTA: Vice City doesn't work. But that's a minor thing.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      It depends. It could go either way.

    • by Weezul (52464) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:11PM (#44889819)

      There will obviously be way more cyanogenmod now, but the question is :

      Can we trust them now that they're a corporation?

      How many developers are Americans subject to National Security Letters?

  • One question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:56PM (#44885057) Homepage

    I have only one question: How will they make money? That pretty much determines if this is a good or a bad thing.

    • by Kludge (13653) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:17PM (#44885315)

      I have installed Cyanogenmod on a couple of devices that the phone maker stopped supporting long ago. I get all the new yummy android stuff without buying a new phone.
      I can see this as a large selling point for companies who want to keep their devices up to date with security patches.

      • CM upgrades rock (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kludge (13653) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:20PM (#44885349)

        Let me also point out that Cyanogenmod has now built in the ability to upgrade/update by a few simple clicks on your phone's interface. It really rocks.

      • by asmkm22 (1902712)

        Maybe. My experience is that cell phones tend to break down after a few years of use, either from batteries that can't be replaced or buttons and touchscreens that become less responsive. Not to mention system specs that get outdated.

        More importantly, any long term support contract would have to be quite a bit cheaper than the cost of simply getting a new phone in the first place, to make much sense for most people. With many new phones easily available for one or two hundred dollars (with contract of co

        • by prelelat (201821)

          I have had android devices from carriers with little to no support on them. They are locked and push out the updates themselves. These updates never see my phone. I've also had devices like my xoom that received the first major update in Canada months after the update was released in the states. If you could manage your own updates you could also hold off on device breaking updates until they have been properly tested.

      • But if it were simply not wanting to pay for updates, why wouldn't they just run their devices with stock android from google?

        Then again, I can't understand how the phone makers make money off of their versions of android. I doubt anyone has ever made their decision to buy a samsung because "It has touchwiz!!!" Most consumers don't seem to take updates they're offered in the first place, so I can't really see it as a good incentive to buy a new phone. Offering their own versions seems to just make the
      • by tippe (1136385)

        I wish they supported Apple devices. No, seriously, I'm not even kidding. I so wish I could dump iOS on my iphone and install CM instead...

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        I'd quite easily pay them a subscription fee to get updates. I'm back on a Nexus device, but I miss a lot of the CM features. It really is quite amazing.

    • Re:One question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ebrandsberg (75344) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:26PM (#44885429)

      I suspect that smaller companies like Blu Products (http://bluproducts.com/) could end up offloading software development and support for their phones under contract. Likewise they could offer services to enterprise customers to unify the android systems that they support on the "bring your own device" plans, so as to simplify support as well. I downloaded the newest CM daily today for the HTC One, and it prompted to link to the Cyanogenmod account, and once linked, it provided services such as remote wiping, finding my phone, etc. As such, if you have one unified version of android across multiple devices, it opens the door for providing unified services to simplify enterprise management. My worry is that companies like Samsung will not like this model since it levels the playing field between them and other hardware makers (the software is the same now) and they will refuse to release hardware level drivers to enable various features. That said, it opens the door to hardware/firmware only phone releases from small companies and open the market for rapid advancement.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        The first one sounds reasonable the second does not.
        Most phones need binary drivers that cyanogenmod would not be licensed to distribute. For now they get away with it, but that won't last once they are making money.

        • Usually the phone makers are releasing the binary blobs that allow CM and other custom Android versions to run. As long as they continue to do so in a way that allows the binary blobs to be redistributed, there won't be an issue. If they attempt to restrict this use however, it will result in a phone basically being blacklisted by anybody that does anything outside of the ordinary, and personally, I would not buy the phone, or advise others to as well.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Since when?
            Even the Nexus 4 had delays getting binaries out. I believe CM is just pulling them off the hardware and hoping no one cares.

            • and no one will care, they don;t have to distribute them directy just pull them from the device before doing anything else. anyone who has access to the phone has access to those binaries. You can back them on your computer install CM and put them back, or the rom installer can do that for you ( a la google apps). Where do you think most people get the binary blob for the camera or the gps shared library for the galaxy nexus for instance (they are not available from google).
              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                Once this is a money making enterprise Samsung, HTC and LG will care. Copying it off the device will be considered copyright infringement.

            • HTC at least: http://blog.htc.com/2013/01/continued-support-for-the-developer-community/

              I suspect that the formalizing of CM as a company may help resolve some of these issues however, as they can push the component makers to provide the drivers to THEM. It is somewhat the same situation as with the phone makers, where they get the drivers from the component makers, and include them in their build. CM could do the same, and release the binary drivers for the CM builds on third party phones for CM builds.

    • by kaiser423 (828989)

      This is really interesting in that lots of large name manufacturers have their own semi-customer versions of Android. Lots of them are just custom skins, but quite a few also alter the Android base some.

      Now this is a different tact in it seems that Boost Mobile will have it's own version of Android. So, a carrier-specific version, which is very interesting. I think that this is a first in the Android world, and something that seemed somewhat inevitable. Definitely a way to potentially differentiate yours

    • There is a very easy way they can make money. Via their auto update stream.

      CM now supports auto update. It is a killer feature, but one they could easily charge for. IE you want to update to the latest CM over the air? Pay $10. Else, download it yourself and flash it yourself.

      Another way, they could change you to download their pre-built binary images. Maybe only the images for the Nexus are free, and ones for other phones are $5 a download.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      I wonder if they will begin charging for the ROM or licensing?
    • by tool462 (677306)

      I would expect they follow the model many other open source companies have done (deviations from this would probably raise at least one of my eyebrows): services and support.

      I've run CM on most of my Android devices at some point. I stay with the vanilla carrier OS for a bit, but it inevitably starts to annoy me, and generally ceases to get updated after a year or two.
      The dev community has done a terrific job of making it easy to root and install CM on a wide variety of phones, but everything still comes w

      • by P-niiice (1703362)
        All if that is possibly why they are recently looking into how badly root is actually needed. See recent Google Plus posts by the team asking about what users do most and thoughts about whether root is actually needed for those things.
        I doubt you can build a corporation that relies on the various hacks that allow installation of the replacement recoveries and root.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @12:57PM (#44885071) Homepage Journal
    At some point, hacker ideals can become very profitable. Cydia [saurik.com] started as an alternative to the App Store and some estimates place revenues now as high as $10 million a year [washingtonpost.com]. More power to these guys!
    • by sootman (158191)

      > Cydia started as an alternative to the App Store

      Actually, didn't it pre-date the app store?

      • by adolf (21054)

        Yes. Cydia had a working system on end-user devices for distributing third-party applications on 1st-gen iPhones and iPod Touch months before Apple did.

        At the time, Apple was championing the notion that apps weren't even needed; all anyone really needed was HTML5 and a web site to serve it to end-users.

        We all see how well that concept went....

    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      It's especially amazing since Apple is constantly trying to put them out of business.

  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:13PM (#44885265)

    I hope they reap the benefits of all the hard work they've been putting into pushing phone technology forward.

  • Seems like a legit move by Boost to try and reach a niche market. I wonder what Google's stance on this might be
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @01:25PM (#44885421)

    AOKP[1] is based on the CM tree. I wonder if they will still have access to the code. I'm really not in the mood for more corporate interest BS on my device.

    [1] http://www.androidbeat.com/2013/05/cyanogenmod-vs-aokp/ [androidbeat.com]

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      If not they would switch to AOSP. This is the danger with the apache license. They can take their ball and go home.

  • No doubt I would by buy it if they could get the latest version of Android running on my Atrix. Saves me from buying another phone.

  • by nurb432 (527695)

    I don't see 'not start charging' in their list.

    Should we expect to have to pay for this soon? If so, they better be producing something that is rock solid and offer actual support.

  • hold the phone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @02:08PM (#44885903)

    Since the majority of supported phones didn't have their support implemented by the cyanogen mod team (They only built support for the most popular phones) how on earth can they claim the project is theirs to go public with? There were literally thousands of people that rebuilt packages and redesigned interfaces so they could get it onto other phones. I even created a release for my phone a few years ago because Cyanogen didn't support it. This seems shady to me. They were already making significant money from their apps, as was made clear when one of their team went rouge last year, why now? I guess we'll have to wait and see, but I don't think this is a good turn of events at all.

    • Since the majority of supported phones didn't have their support implemented by the cyanogen mod team (They only built support for the most popular phones) how on earth can they claim the project is theirs to go public with?

      Is Cyanogen mode claiming the code is "theirs" in a some way different from how RedHat might claim linux is theirs?

  • with the founder of Boost Mobile as the CEO

    WHERE YOU AT, DOG? The whole city's behind you!

  • One point I haven't seen covered: Will it remain open source and free-as-in-speech, or are they making it proprietary?

    • by guanxi (216397) on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @04:16PM (#44887383)

      To answer some of my own question, this is their response in their Reddit AMA [reddit.com]:

      ----

      We are in the process of setting up a nonprofit to foster the open source side.

      ----

      There are no plans to close the source for things such as device support and work done in the community. We do need to build value for the company, and there are various things we are working on that require significant time and capital to develop- these may be proprietary but we won't pervert/close the core OS for this to happen.

      ----

      Our strength is that we have a strong open source community behind us.

      The core of the project (hardware support, community contributions, etc) will always remain open source. But obviously, as a company that has financial needs, employees to pay, Cooper treats to buy, and Cyanogen-babies to feed, we will need to make careful decisions about what we open source, and what may become proprietary.

      • Posting this from CM device I'm not sure how I feel about this. What they do is awesome and I would want them to succeed, however it seems it was so good it's destined to become corporate bloat ware. On my cell I run slim rom and it is great.
      • by gnoshi (314933)

        So, to summarise... not really?

        The parts that will allow contributors to port to new devices will (presumably because (a) parts of that are GPL anyway, and (b) because there is a benefit to CM to having contributors doing the work of porting to new devices).
        Work done by contributors will remain open source (but derivatives of that, who knows)
        Apart from that: stuff will be made closed source as required to get teh monies.

        That isn't to say money is the primary motivation, just that from the posts on Reddit it

  • I bought a bunch of HP Touchpads during the firesale. It was a great tablet, just no OS support after HP dumped them and the WebOS developers. Cyanogenmod, while not supporting all of the hardware (i.e. video camera), enabled Android and access to all of the apps, games, etc. to an abandoned platform. I gave a number of Touchpads away as Christmas gifts that year.

    I've since moved on to the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity. ASUS provides a utility to unlock their devices. I am running CROMI-X (a slightly m

  • I don't like it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Wednesday September 18, 2013 @09:39PM (#44889951) Journal

    With this move, they are now beholden to shareholders (i.e. the Venture Capitalists) and profit is the #1 priority, despite the flowery, rainbow-colored unicorn fantasy they are promoting.

    I'd bet dollars to donuts that CM is going to become payware and possibly even supported by ads integrated directly into the O/S, with underlying information snooping software that gives them your private info so they can sell it to marketing firms.

    So, no, I don't like it one bit.

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