Highlights from Cyanogen’s AMA

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Forget this misleading headline from The Verge; in my mind the Cyanogen team has already built a better version of Android. With some eight million tracked users — and a two or threefold more who opt out of statistical representation — CyanogenMod might already be more popular than Windows Phone.

The real news then, is that the Cyanogen team has raised $7 million in venture capital to form Cyanogen, Inc. And the even bigger news than that, the “how is this even possible” news, is that they will somehow manage to release a ROM installer through Google Play.

As is the style of the times, founder Steve Kondik and Koushik Dutta eschewed the traditional press conference and instead went straight to reddit for an “ask us anything” session. Here are some highlights.

On Monetization:

The obvious question was also the most-upvoted in the thread.

Koush: Monetization isn’t an immediate concern and our investors and [at?] Benchmark and Redpoint feel the same. CyanogenMod has the potential to become an enormous platform play, and to do that, we need to foster and grow the ecosystem. Right now, we just want to build something compelling and grow the user base. Eventually, there are innumerable paths to monetization once we reach economics of scale: licensing our software/services to OEMs, building hardware, creating secure enterprise solutions, etc.

Creating disruption in a multibilion [sic] dollar market is enough to make any investor raise their eyebrow.

Shortly thereafter, Koush pointed to a blog post written by Mitch Lasky which, among other things, lists some of the other open source projects that Benchmark has invested in — including Red Hat and MySQL.

On Google:

While Android itself is open source software, the binary blobs that together make up Google services are most definitely not. So why on earth would Google host an installer in their own app store that could potentially free users from its products?

Koush: We’re in an interesting spot, because typically GSF is licensed to OEMs, not software vendors (us). But becoming a legitimate business entity and partnering with an OEM are the first steps to licensing GSF. Most of the technical hurdles have already been overcome (passing CTS).

Tom Moss, who is on our board, is the ex-head of Business Developments and Partnerships at Google. He basically drafted all the agreements to license GSF, anti[-]fragmentation clauses, etc. He’ll be very helpful as well on this front moving forward.

Soon thereafter, a helpful redditor decrypted a few of those acronyms. GSF stands for the Google Services Framework, and CTS is the Android Compatibility Test Suite.

On OEMs:

Some redditors were salivating at the idea of buying a device with CyanogenMod pre-installed.

Steve: We have a[t] least one OEM partnership in the works, there will be an announcement next week regarding our plans there.

All eyes are on Oppo, a company that really understands the influence of the modding community. It would be a great fit.

On CM Accounts:

Maybe not as mind-blowing as a ROM install from the Play Store, the idea of syncing apps and settings across multiple installations is no less appealing.

Steve: If by settings sync you mean between devices, yes, this is really important for our target audience since we’re more likely to have multiple devices. I shouldn’t have to spend hours configuring a new device, ever.

I put my own question to the team, but for whatever reason it’s languished near the bottom of the thread. I’ll guess we’ll have to consider it a teaser for tomorrow’s post!

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