Microsoft has written a cheque to power up Cyanogen, which is building a version of the Android mobile operating system outside of Google’s auspices.
Apparently Microsoft is a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing and the financing round could grow with other strategic investors that have expressed interest.
All of them are keen that to help Cyanogen to diminish Google’s iron grip over Android.
Microsoft offers its own Windows Phone mobile operating system which should be doing its own thing to kill off Android. But Windows Phone has only about 3 per cent market share, which may be prompting Microsoft to consider unconventional steps.
Google has frustrated manufacturers in recent years by requiring them to feature Google apps and set Google search as the default for users, in exchange for access to the search engine, YouTube, or the millions of apps in its Play Store.
For Microsoft, that means less exposure for its Bing search engine, which is up against Google search. It also could limit growth of other Microsoft software products.
Cyanogen has a volunteer army of 9,000 software developers working on its own version of Android.
Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen’s chief said his company’s goal is to take Android away from Google.
It had raised $100 million to date. Previously the company had disclosed that it raised $30 million of funding.
Cyanogen recently signed a deal with Indian smartphone maker Micromax to ship handsets with Cyanogen’s software and is close to announcing more such deals, say people familiar with the matter.