After several months of turbulence, including several organizational shakeups that resulted in the loss of some high-level executives, Cyanogen has made it official – it is shutting down all services and effectively shutting down Cyanogen OS as we know it.
The past few months have been fraught with challenges for a company that, in 2015, once confidently told Forbes that it’s going to “(put) a bullet through Google’s head,” challenging the tech titan and its Android operating system.
A series of reports from Android Police has been chronicling all the drama behind the scenes, which included the announcement of the closure of its Seattle office by the end of the year, a good chance of new rounds of layoffs, and the likely departure of co-founder Steve Kondik. Prior to that, CEO Kirt McMaster, who made the above “bullet through Google’s head” proclamation to Forbes, turned his position over to Lior Tal in October. And by the end of November, Kondik was officially out, blasting McMaster in a blog post confirming his departure from Cyanogen.
“My co-founder [McMaster] apparently became unhappy with running the business and not owning the vision. This is when the ‘bullet to the head’ and other misguided media nonsense started, and the bad business deals were signed. Being second in command, all I could do was try and stop it, do damage control, and hope every day that something new didn’t happen.”
— MobileFreakz (@mobile_freakz) December 2, 2016
One month after Kondik’s scathing blog post, Cyanogen posted a succinct blog entry on Friday announcing that it would be discontinuing all nightlies for Cyanogen OS and closing down all its services on December 31. The company, however, assured that its project will still remain open-source to anyone who wants to create their own modifications or builds.
“The open source project and source code will remain available for anyone who wants to build CyanogenMod personally.”
What does this mean for owners of Cyanogen OS devices, primarily the OnePlus One? According to TechCrunch, this would require users to move over the non-commercial CyanogenMod ROM, which is currently being managed by Kondik and other developers. And with regards to the company’s grand plans to be a giant-killer and challenge Google’s Android OS, the shutdown of its services means Cyanogen will now be “(living) in Google’s world” – in other words, if you can’t beat them, join them.
TechCrunch pointed out how Cyanogen software was “always a hard sell,” because it had forced original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to eschew Android and Google services completely and adapt Cyanogen’s services instead. And aside from the organizational troubles from within, the company had also fallen out with OnePlus, with both firms ending their partnership in April 2015. Android Authority wrote about this fallout in full detail, which featured “collisions between personalities” and differing visions for the OnePlus One maker and Cyanogen, which was still trying to be a disruptive force in the mobile platform space.
— Bert Fentress (@GeekInfoNow) December 24, 2016
Going forward, Cyanogen Chief Executive and former chief operating officer Lior Tal wants the company to work closer with Google instead of taking the much larger company on, with the Cyanogen OS effectively getting unbundled and OEMs having more freedom to use individual parts of the operating system. These were detailed in a statement Tal released in October, upon his appointment as CEO.
“The new partnership program offers smartphone manufacturers greater freedom and opportunity to introduce intelligent, customizable Android smartphones using different parts of the Cyanogen OS via dynamic modules and MODs, with the ROM of their choice, whether stock Android or their own variant.”
Despite the recent shutdown of its Seattle office and various cost-cutting moves, Cyanogen is still a “well-funded” operation, according to Tal, as investors have injected $115 million worth of funds to date. Its “consolidation” plan entails that it will maintain only one office in Palo Alto, California. And while the new round of cost-cutting and the shutdown of all Cyanogen OS services may be in line with its pivot, TechCrunch believes that Cyanogen will now have to focus on offering services partners would really want and be willing to pay for.