At this point, most people who follow smart phone news are aware that Windows Phone isn’t doing so well. As ExtremeTech notes, as of February, 2015, it holds less than three percent market share, compared to iOS and Android phones. So how is Microsoft, which would desperately like a slice of the over $1 trillion dollar smart phone market, planning to break this stranglehold?
Well, according to a report in Wired, the current plan is to co-opt Android phones from Google. Having invested heavily in Cyanogen (an Android custom mod that’s since gone mainstream) in January, as reported by the Inquisitr, Microsoft is now partnering with Cyanogen to put Microsoft productivity apps on Cyanogen-powered Android phones in place of the usual Google suite, integrating apps such as Outlook, Office, Skype, Bing, OneDrive, and OneNote with the basic Android operating system.
Traditionally speaking, smart phone manufacturers bundle the phone with native apps; Android phones get Google apps, iOS devices get Apple. Cyanogen’s deal with Microsoft represents a major departure from this model, but a smart one for the software giant; with everything Microsoft has sunk into developing their apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, very few people are using them.
Cyanogen notes that while the apps will come bundled with their Android phones, they won’t be “shoved down your throat” — instead, they’ll be suggested to the user when it seems like they might be useful, and unlike most “bloatware” that phones come loaded with, the user will be free to uninstall/replace them.
ZDNet notes that Cyanogen’s stated mission is “To take Android away from Google” and the partnership with Microsoft is an interesting take on that. It does take a lot of control over the Android ecosystem away from Google, putting it in the hands of one of their major competitors. That being said, it’s still up in the air which phones, if any, will ship with Cyanogen; Microsoft stated that it has no plans to make Cyanogen-based Android phones itself, at present time, in spite of its ownership of Nokia, which is currently producing Windows Phones.
It remains to be seen how much benefit Microsoft will see from getting their primary app suite on more Android phones right out of the gate, but even if Cyanogen is only bundled on a few Android phones, it will help Microsoft to reach people that they normally wouldn’t otherwise, particularly with apps such as Skype whose use grows virally; and with Microsoft already receiving billions of dollars in revenue from their Android patents yearly, their partnership with Cyanogen seems to be a win-win for everyone.
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