Saturday, April 11, 2015

Cyanogen partnering with Blu to launch a truly Google-free Android phone

There's no subtlety to Cyanogen's ambitions. CEO Kirt McMaster makes a habit of fiery rhetoric, recently proclaiming his operating system is "putting a bullet through Google's head."

Yes, that means no Gmail, Chrome, Google Search, or Play Store. The details aren't final, but McMaster tells Forbes the plan is to ship the phone with alternatives like the Opera web browser, Amazon Appstore, Nokia's Here maps and Spotify for music.

The company also plans to build its own app store, though there isn't yet a clear path to how its scheme will churn out enough revenue to sustain the company. Cyanogen does have some big-name backers in Twitter, Qualcomm, and mogul Rupert Murdoch, part of a recent $80 million fundraising round.

But while modders and open source advocates may be enamored with the plan, it's unclear how much mainstream appeal a truly Google-free device will have. Android may not be as open as it once was, but there are plenty of custom themes and stock app alternatives available to suit your fancy.

The story behind the story: Cyanogen first began as one of many Android modifications—an alternate version of the operating system for tinkerers to play

with on their devices. But after Cyanogen was bundled on the OnePlus One the company's ambitions haven't slowed down, culminating in its vision for a separate and Google-free operating system. Sales numbers, instead of rhetoric, will determine how much traction there really is for another mobile operating system.