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Cyanogen Inc. Reportedly Fires OS Development Arm, Switches To Apps (arstechnica.com) 124

An anonymous reader writes: Android Police is reporting that the Android software company Cyanogen Inc. will be laying off 20 percent of its workforce, and will transition from OS development to applications. The Android Police report says "roughly 30 out of the 136 people Cyanogen Inc. employs" are being cut, and that the layoffs "most heavily impact the open source arm" of the company. Android Police goes on to say that CyanogenMod development by Cyanogen Inc "may be eliminated entirely." Ars Technica notes the differences between each "Cyanogen" branding. Specifically, CyanogenMod is a "free, open source, OS heavily based on Android and compatible with hundreds of devices," while Cyanogen Inc. is "a for-profit company that aims to sell Cyanogen OS to OEMs." It appears that many of the core CyanogenMod developers will no longer be paid to work on CyanogenMod, though the community is still free to develop the software." Android Police details the firing process in their report: "Layoffs reportedly came after a long executive retreat for the company's leaders and were conducted with no advanced notice. Employees who were not let go were told not to show up to work today. Those who did show up were the unlucky ones: they had generic human resources meetings rather ominously added to their calendars last night. So, everyone who arrived at Cyanogen Inc. in Seattle this morning did so to lose their job (aside from those conducting the layoffs)." Early last year, Microsoft invested in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing for the then-startup Cyanogen Inc. Not too long before that, Google tried to acquire Cyanogen Inc., but the company turned down Google's offer to seek funding from investors and major tech companies at a valuation of around $1 billion. Cyanogen Inc. CEO Kirt McMaster once said the company was "attempting to take Android away from Google" and that it was "putting a bullet through Google's head."

UPDATE 7/25/16: Cyanogen CEO and cofounder Kirt McMaster took to Twitter to dispel some of the rumors, tweeting: "Cyanogen NOT pivoting to apps. We are an OS company and our mission of creating an OPEN ANDROID stands. FALSE reporting was outstanding."
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Cyanogen Inc. Reportedly Fires OS Development Arm, Switches To Apps

Comments Filter:
  • Applications? (Score:2, Insightful)

    There is zero money to be made in Android applications. What a disaster.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Cyanogen Inc is turning into just another Wall Street hedge fund like Uber and Pokemon, whose main business will be in the derivatives markets. "Android applications" is irrelevant to the portfolio. Lots of weird shit happening in the markets. I wonder if if all this "capitalization" is nothing a setup for a big crash (correction, amirite?) this fall. Might be a good idea to cash out by the end of August, and then pick up some good bargains in December.

    • Re:Applications? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @12:23AM (#52564937)

      Well I wouldn't be that certain about that. But it's certainly stupid to knife the OS development arm, which was the only thing they had which was unique, for application development which is crowded with competition from everyone and their dog.
      .

      • Well I wouldn't be that certain about that. But it's certainly stupid to knife the OS development arm, which was the only thing they had which was unique, for application development which is crowded with competition from everyone and their dog.

        The OS is the combination for base plus some apps. I actually like the apps, I downloaded an OS image and extracted apps for things like file manager and torch etc and put them on a stock Nexus. Can't see there's much money in that though.

        And $1bn seems mad.

      • Re:Applications? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @05:38AM (#52565545)

        Indeed. They have gone and killed what made them unique to now compete in the cheap-trash mass-market. Corporate suicide at its best.

        What will be interesting to see is whether Cyanogen Mod survives. The fired OS-group should start their own company and carry on. Maybe try Patreon financing or something like it.

      • Re:Applications? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday July 23, 2016 @06:25AM (#52565607) Homepage Journal

        Well I wouldn't be that certain about that. But it's certainly stupid to knife the OS development arm, which was the only thing they had which was unique, for application development which is crowded with competition from everyone and their dog.

        Let's go around in circles, though: What made their OS development arm unique was their apps, that were designed not to work with AOSP like a well-designed app would. Meanwhile, AOKP and SOKP are supporting more devices between them than Cyanogenmod, so what do they actually have to offer other than their apps? Conclusion, stick with the apps.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2016 @10:40PM (#52564695)

    ... there will always be forks. That's the open source way. I'm not worried.

  • Not entirely true (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2016 @11:09PM (#52564771)

    I happen to still be employed by Cyanogen, Inc and work on the OS side so take the rumors with a grain of salt.

    Employees will know more after Tuesday.

    • I hope not; CM13 nightlies for my S5 are finally getting stable enough that I can actually use the thing without wanting to snap it in half...
    • I happen to still be employed by Cyanogen, Inc and work on the OS side so take the rumors with a grain of salt.

      Employees will know more after Tuesday.

      I hope you're being truthful, but given that you posted anonymously your comment carries absolutely zero credibility. Care to be more convincing? I WANT to believe.

      • Re:Not entirely true (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 23, 2016 @01:17AM (#52565075)

        I work at Oracle, which is run by lawyers. You better believe I'll never post anything about them in any fashion other than anonymously.

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          My condolences. That company has some good and some bad tech, but the management is among the most evil and negative in the world. "Lawyers" would explain that nicely, of course.

    • Employees will know more after Tuesday.

      Ex-employees will know more by Wednesday?

  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @11:20PM (#52564803) Homepage Journal

    For once, he'd be on topic.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      For once, he'd be on topic.

      Nothing is stopping you from being him. Just log out first. :)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps the executives and HR department should have been fired. That would have been a far better decision.

  • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @11:46PM (#52564875)

    * People were fed up with carrier-crap on their phones
    * People were fed up with Google-crap on their phones
    * CyanogenMod offered a crap-free phone OS

    The "Cyanogen Inc" outfit tried to cash on the popularity of CyanogenMod. But they turned around, sold out, and baked their own crap into the OS. https://techcrunch.com/2016/01... [techcrunch.com] Yes, MS Cortana. If I wanted a smartphone run by MS, I'd buy an MS smartphone already. This was a major betrayal of why people use CyanogenMod. And "Cyanogen Inc" is paying the price.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday July 22, 2016 @11:58PM (#52564899)

      * People were fed up with carrier-crap on their phones

      I'm definitely in that camp, I'm sticking with the Nexus, not only do I not have all of the carrier crap, but I also get regular OS updates - my 3 year old Nexus 7 tablet still receives near monthly updates.

      * People were fed up with Google-crap on their phones

      Apparently not that many, or Cyanogen would have a market for their OS. Even cyanogen provides a wiki page to tell you how to load Google Apps on your Cyanogenmod device, because "many users find them beneficial to take full advantage of the Android ecosystem."

      https://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w... [cyanogenmod.org]

      • The BIG difference between the Google apps package for alternative ROMs like CyanogenMod and the Google apps installed on Nexus phones by default, is that under ROMs like CyanogenMod, you can install a very _limited_ google apps selection. For example, you can have basically just the google play store, and that's it. No Hangouts, Gmail, Google app, Chrome, Drive, etc, etc.

        • The BIG difference between the Google apps package for alternative ROMs like CyanogenMod and the Google apps installed on Nexus phones by default, is that under ROMs like CyanogenMod, you can install a very _limited_ google apps selection. For example, you can have basically just the google play store, and that's it. No Hangouts, Gmail, Google app, Chrome, Drive, etc, etc.

          I don't remember that being an issue. However I only used CM for a while to get my flakey Nexus 4 to work with a hack I had to make to get Android to ignore the out of range temp values from the flakey temp sensor. The 5 was great as it came.

          After going Google from the G1 through to the N5, I've gone to the Apply side just to see what's it's like over there.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            The BIG difference between the Google apps package for alternative ROMs like CyanogenMod and the Google apps installed on Nexus phones by default, is that under ROMs like CyanogenMod, you can install a very _limited_ google apps selection. For example, you can have basically just the google play store, and that's it. No Hangouts, Gmail, Google app, Chrome, Drive, etc, etc.

            I don't remember that being an issue.....

            It's not an issue. It's an advantage. "you can install a very _limited_ google apps selection" but you don't have to. All the other apps are available in the store, but you don't have to install them if you don't want them. Most phones enforce all sorts of things that you can't remove even if you need the space.

        • under ROMs like CyanogenMod, you can install a very _limited_ google apps selection. For example, you can have basically just the google play store, and that's it. No Hangouts, Gmail, Google app, Chrome, Drive, etc, etc.

          Not true. Check Delta Gapps With Modular Addons (All DPI) [xda-developers.com]. You're welcome.

          • Which part is not true? All I am saying is that there exist micro/pico/mini distributions of opengapps which allow you to install as big gapps collection as you like. There is one of them that allows the play store and that's pretty much it, which should really be the only option.

        • by caseih ( 160668 )

          Sorry but your comment doesn't makes sense. All you need is the play store and play services. Everything else is available on the play store itself. Why would you want Hangouts Gmail, Chrome, Drive, etc all bundled with the firmware? Bundled apps get installed in system space and then when the play store updates them in two weeks they go to the non-system part of your phone's memory, meaning all that space used up in /system is just a waste now. Google started moving away from bundling all the apps a lo

          • My comment makes entirely sense. I think you didn't read it carefully, that's why you're saying exactly what I said. I was replying to a statement that says that "google crap" is supposedly good. Not. Check out how many Google apps are pre-installed by default on a typical google Nexus smartphone. Dozens. I mean, literally many dozens. And many of them do cause problems because some apps, even when you never use them, still have services running in the background which wake up your phone and make it drain i

      • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )

        Even cyanogen provides a wiki page to tell you how to load Google Apps on your Cyanogenmod device, because "many users find them beneficial to take full advantage of the Android ecosystem."

        Many Android app developers only upload their apps to Google Play. It may be possible to find the apps on other app markets, but you have no idea if it is the real deal or crawling with malware.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          That's why I use Raccoon (http://www.onyxbits.de/raccoon) on a PC to download the application from Play, transfer it to the phone and install manually. No Google crap required.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Many Android app developers only upload their apps to Google Play.

          Then ask the developers to also upload to Amazon (if proprietary) or F-Droid (if free).

    • * People were fed up with Google-crap on their phones

      I saw some stats a few years ago on XDA where the developers said that their Google Apps package was downloaded almost as frequently as Cyanogenmod itself.

      People were fed-up with vendor bastardisations on their phone. The carrier crap can mostly be hidden, but buying nice hardware meant sometimes you were stuck with really REALLY shitty software ... like Samsung's Android releases back in the day.

  • Life goes on (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @01:01AM (#52565017)

    Cyanogen Inc and its CyanogenMod project is basically the RedHat and Fedora of the Android ROM world. While losing CyanogenMod, in the worst case scenario, is going to be a loss and an annoyance in the short term, other ROM projects will take their place.

    Speaking of alternatives, wasn't OmniROM supposed to be an alternative to CyanogenMod? I have had a good experience with older OmniROM ROMs, but their list of supported hardware is very short. Hope it gets better with time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It would be nice to see a CyanogenMod-like project, with a company/organization whose sole goal is to make it better. Not make another OS, but to focus on making one ROM that can work well across a lot of devices. Of course, this is something resource intensive, but this is something that should be funded by multiple parties, especially with various governments' fear of backdoors.

      A good example would be going back to a standard of dm-crypt where it would be completely in software, but the user would have

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I remember rumors a few years ago that VMware was going to make a smartphone hypervisor that would allow for smartphone VM partitioning.

        The downsides would be battery consumption, paltry RAM on smartphones and the fact that you would basically need a major OEM to bake it into the design.

        Of course the unachievable dream would have been iOS and Android VMs on one piece of hardware.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      well, no. For better or for worse, Red Hat actually employs major contributors or otherwise supports upstream development for many desktop/server Linux distribution components. besides the kernel itself, there's glibc, systemd, gcc, and a whole bunch of other shit. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if more Red Hat-funded code in regular Android just from the kernel alone than there is Cyanogen code, and Android doesn't even use glibc or systemd!

      Whereas Android is still overwhelmingly a a Google project,

  • by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Saturday July 23, 2016 @06:54AM (#52565665)

    Raise your hand if you didn't see this coming. Frankly, I'm shocked that people stayed with Cyanogen, Inc. after Microsoft got involved. Once Microsoft puts money into your company, it's time to start looking for a new job while you still have one.

    Microsoft has always been the kiss of death, and it still surprises me when people don't see the writing on the wall.

    • by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Saturday July 23, 2016 @03:39PM (#52567567)

      Raise your hand if you didn't see this coming. Frankly, I'm shocked that people stayed with Cyanogen, Inc. after Microsoft got involved.

      Before they got involved with Microsoft, they'd already screwed over OnePlus, their first and highest profile CyanogenOS customer. OnePlus immediately turned around and basically demonstrated that they didn't actually need Cyanogen to deliver a decent Android.

      That and the dipshit blathering about putting a bullet through Google's head probably did more damage than Microsoft did.

  • So, just bought the Wileyfox Storm handset, which 'prides' itself on running Cyanogen OS. Was hoping to keep it current for 2 or 3 years. Guess it's stuck with what it's got right now then. Anything you want killing, just get me to buy it first.
  • CyanogenMod only had one notable OEM win: OnePlus. And then they left the fold to do their own OS. So it's not surprising that Cyanogen has concluded that there isn't any business there. But it's bad news for people with older phones that aren't getting updates from their makers.

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