Cyanogen Scores Exclusive Deal with Qualcomm

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With the Samsung Galaxy S6 and HTC M9 officially official, I’ve been pouring through some other news from Mobile World Congress, happening right now in Barcelona. And as news goes this is pretty big: Cyanogen, Inc. and Qualcomm have inked a deal wherein Cyanogen will provide the software for upcoming Qualcomm Reference Devices.

This does not mean that the Qualcomm equivalent of a Nexus is going on sale anytime soon. Rather than paraphrase I’ll let Android Central explain:

Qualcomm makes special devices with each of its chipset launches called Qualcomm Reference Devices, or QRDs. Think of it like a whitebox program, where Qualcomm provides everything necessary for a company to slap its branding on the side and call it their own. There are hundreds of these devices in the world today, made by dozens of different manufacturers. Qualcomm’s program makes it so these manufacturers can “make” and sell a device in as little as 60 days, instead of the months and months a from-scratch hardware launch takes. Most of these devices aren’t particularly fun to use, due in many cases to the software.

So in other words, a lot of those dreary low and mid-range Android devices are about to get a lot better!

I should probably remind you that Cyanogen has been particularly cutthroat in their short history as a VC-funded corporation, routinely stomping on the toes of collaborators as they reach towards their next deal. First they re-licensed the code from one of their key developers. Then they made a deal with an Indian OEM that got  OnePlus banned in that country for a short while. And now it seems they’ve pulled the factory image for the OnePlus One from their newly-designed site. So while CyanogenMod remains a community-driven ROM, Cyanogen, Inc. doesn’t seem like the type of company that puts its users first.

Despite all this, I still believe that Cyanogen, open or closed, offers its users an experience better than stock Android itself. As far as I’m concerned, the more Android devices out there with Privacy Guard (or equivalent) the better.

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