Microsoft Could Soon Invest In Android – Well, Sort Of

Microsoft is said to be investing in Cyanogen, a developer of an open source Android-based operating system

Reports are circulating that Microsoft has decided to invest in Android – that is, in a startup called Cyanogen that’s building a rogue version of the Android OS.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” The Wall Street Journal claims that Microsoft is planning to become a minority investor in Cyanogen.

It would be an unusual deal, since on first inspection it seems that the small company has no software, hardware or services relevant to Microsoft.

Cyanogen: Google’s cyanide?

However, it’s been a busy 18 months for Cyanogen. The last year and a half has seen it raise a cool $23m in funding, partner with Chinese manufacturer Oppo, and ink a deal with Indian consumer electronics company Micromax.

Clearly the open source operating system has been making great leaps in emerging markets, bypassing restrictions that Google places on Android like requiring manufacturers to install Google Apps on all Android phones.

If there are any doubts over how well the company’s doing, Google itself tried to buy out Cyanogen back in October – though the startup refused saying that it wanted to keep Android “open.”

CyanogenModMicrosoft’s interest in the company could be centred on the CEO of Cyanogen’s promise to disrupt Google’s market dominance. Kirk McMaster is on record in the Wall Street Journal as saying “we’re going to take Android away from Google,” citing that 50 million people around the world use a version of the Cyanogen Android OS.

Then there’s the fact that Microsoft’s Windows Phone is doing steady business, but it’s not setting the market on fire.

If Microsoft and Cyanogen were to work together on a version of the OS that also incorporates Microsoft services, the software giant could take advantage of Cyanogen’s growing user base.

Neither Microsoft nor Cyanogen are willing to comment on the prospective deal, and there’s still no word on how big Microsoft’s investment may be.

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