I love Android. When I get a new phone my first steps are downloading my favorite launcher and installing customization tools like Multi-Picture Live Wallpaper and Zooper Widget Pro. I then spend hours creating custom widgets, setting up custom animations for wallpapers and tweaking every available aesthetic aspect available to my liking. The result is often a device which none of my friends can use when asked to do something as simple as launch the camera app. But to me, my phone is just as personal as ascetically pleasing and functional. I have often pondered rooting my HTC One M8 but have either not had the time or was just too scared of bricking the device. Why root? To flash a new ROM of course.

The Android OS is famous for being open-source and everyone from single developers to phone manufacturers like Samsung and HTC has used this open sourced code to modify the stock Android experience to a custom version for their devices. While many ROMs change the appearance from stock Android, others add functional differences that alter the way notifications appear or how tasks are accessed. However, the main reason that millions of smartphone users are willing to go through the trouble of rooting their phones and risking bricking their devices and voiding their warranty is to add customization options or to remove bloatware apps that are pre-installed and irremovable from their devices. Enter Cyanogenmod.

Cyanogenmod, like many software startups, began as a hobbyist project. Steve Kondik was tinkering with Android as early as 2009. Way back in the Android Cupcake, Android Doughnut, and Android Éclair days. Kondik began making changes to improve performance and battery life of smartphones running his “CyanogenMod and began to attract a community of interested developers and customers. Meanwhile, Kirt McMaster a college dropout and Silicon Valley techie had an epiphany. He was frustrated that his Samsung Galaxy S3 did not have the new Jelly Bean update (as I often feel when my phone is on the waitlist for a new version of Android). He flashed CyanogenMod which already incorporated Jelly Bean’s features. The act of flashing his phone made him begin to think about the potential of custom ROMs. You could change the way voice commands launch apps,d” add functionality in new ways that big league companies overlooked and best of all, let the open source community advance the entire smartphone experience instead of large corporations.

Needless to say, Kondik and McMaster teamed up and are currently the CTO and CEO of Cyanogen, respectively. The attitude of Cyanogen is a sort of underdog mentality. The company views the “big dogs” Google and Apple as their #1 enemies. The company seeks to make a superior product while also removing as many Google services as possible. By using non-Google apps like Bing, Outlook, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Spotify, Cyanogen is sort of biting the hand that feeds it while also directly positioning itself as a potential player in the mobile OS duopoly that is Android and iOS. Some say that excluding Google services as a default is a critical move that has the potential to ruin the validity of a phone. Others rejoice that a startup has come to save them from the “big brother” Google invading every aspect of their phone.

Either way, Cyanogen is entering a highly competitive market with a product that can easily be replicated by the big dogs. Whether Cyanogen becomes the underdog or is shut out by its competitors, the end result is clear: users want customization. The want to own their device and add/subtract from it whatever they want. Cyanogen’s impact on the market and the future of mobile OS is sure to be interesting.

Source for this article from Forbes

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