Cyanogen is now a company, aims to be third major mobile ecosystem

CyanogenMod has grown unusually quickly in the past several months, polishing its custom Android firmware and introducing new services. We now know why the team has been so busy -- it's quietly been operating as a full-fledged company since April. The newly announced Cyanogen Inc., led by Boost Mobile co-founder Kirt McMaster, is devoted solely to building CyanogenMod as a platform. Some of the project's veteran developers are now full-time staff, including Steve Kondik (CTO) and Koushik Dutta (VP of Engineering). Read on to learn what the company has in store, including its hopes of eventually competing on the same level as heavy-hitters like Apple and Google.

For now, Cyanogen is focused on refining its experience. The company's next move will be to release an app that simplifies the currently "horrific" CyanogenMod installation process, Kondik says. The installer should reach the Google Play Store in a few weeks, with support expanding from a smaller group of CyanogenMod-friendly devices to include as much hardware as possible. Cyanogen isn't divulging its long-term roadmap, but it notes that CyanogenMod's simple personalization and new account features are representative of what we can expect in the future. At present, there are no plans to charge CyanogenMod users. There's a partnership with an unnamed hardware manufacturer in the works, but Cyanogen is otherwise exploring many potential business models.

Ultimately, the firm wants to address the problems that plague all mobile operating systems, including Android. While there are no intentions of dropping Google's platform, the Cyanogen team also isn't a fan of Android's tendency toward bloatware, insecure data and devices stuck on old OS versions. The developers hope that CyanogenMod will become the third major platform in the smartphone market. It would offer more flexibility than closed platforms like iOS or Windows Phone, but it would also provide a leaner, better supported and more secure alternative to some of the Android releases available today. Climbing to third place or higher in market share is a very lofty goal when the company has yet to clinch big hardware deals. However, we also haven't seen a well-known custom ROM team go professional before -- the possibilities are open.