There are hundreds of custom versions of Android that you can install on phones, tablets, and other devices. But one of the biggest names in the custom firmware space is CyanogenMod. The team has been tweaking and improving Google’s open source operating system for four years… and now the core team of developers have quit their day jobs to work full-time on CyanogenMod.

Founder Steve Kondik announced today that Cyanogen Inc was incorporated in December, 2012 and a team of 17 people has been working full-time on the project since April, when TechCrunch reports the team raised $7 million.

CyanogenMod Installer

This explains why we’ve seen the pace of new apps and features pick up in recent months. The team recently launched a remote locate and wipe feature, a new camera app, a mini-camera tool, per-app incognito mode, and more.

Up next? An easier way to install CyanogenMod.

The team says a CyanogenMod Installer will hit the Google Play Store in the coming weeks. If you’ve got a phone with an unlocked or unlockable bootloader, you’ll be able to download an app, run it, and install the latest version of CyanogenMod without installing the Android SDK, connecting your device to a PC, or going through any of the other craziness that has made CyanogenMod a for-geeks-only tool up until now.

While Kondik hasn’t said how the team hopes to make money, there are millions of people using CyanogenMod at the moment. It’s not surprising that the developers were able to find backers willing to invest some venture capitol in hopes that one day the team would be able to figure out a profitable business model.

Update: In an “ask me anything” session at reddit, CyangoenMod’s Koushik Dutta said that “monetization isn’t an immediate concern.” Eventually the company could look into licensing its software to device makers, building its own hardware, or other opportunities.

The team is also looking into officially licensing the Google Services Framework, something that most custom ROM builders have had to skirt around by offering Google Apps separately from their firmware.

Speaking to The Verge though, Kondik says the team plans to continue emphasizing privacy and security, rather than commerce, referring to some other mobiler operating systems as “essentially mobile cash registers.

The Verge also reports CyanogenMod’s developers are also considering coming up with a new, more consumer-friendly name for their software next year.

At the same time, there are still plenty of other folks developing alternate custom firmware for Android phones. As cool as some of the latest CyanogenMod features are, some of the most interesting stuff I’ve seen lately has come from the developers of Paranoid Android — a team that’s still made up of hobbyists.

It’ll be interesting to see of CyanogenMod Inc paves the way for other custom firmware developers to incorporate.

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10 replies on “CyanogenMod goes pro: Raises $7 million in funding, makes CM easier to install”

  1. The big problem is most users have no idea how to root a phone. What are they going to tell people who brick their phone in the process of installing Cyanogen?
    To me, the big play is to get together with Huaweii or ZTE and put Cyanogen on their best products. Cyanogen gets distributed without having to get customers to root their phones. Huaweii or ZTE get an OS that someone else gets to maintain and pick up fans of Cyanogen that might not have otherwise purchased their phones. Both win. There should be enough profit for both to make money.

  2. Available on Play Store? I need an app like CM to gain access to the Play Store. It might’s well be on the moon.

  3. I hope this means they’ll hire more developers so that bugs actually get fixed before they just move on to the next unstable release.

    1. Catch 22 thing. This has been going on in the desktop GNU/Linux dev for years and still. There’s no silver bullet in sight yet (unfortunately)..And “stability” are a matter of perspective. CM10.2 nightlies runs well on my S2 GT-I9100G at 99%.

  4. I bought a Nexus S phone from TextNow about three weeks ago and was pleasantly surprised to find it running a variant of Crespo4G. That is the first business use of CyanogenMod that I have seen

  5. As a business I hope that means they’ll get things fixed or supported quicker. Too often things don’t work well or at all with CM especially hardware components. Being a non-developer, I can only report bugs and run the tests devs ask me to. Also, these devs are only working on CM as a hobby so no expectation of things getting fixed can be assumed.

    1. “As a business I hope that means they’ll get things fixed or supported quicker.”

      Can’t run on donations forever. Hard fact I know.

      “Too often things don’t work well or at all with CM especially hardware components.”

      I think the general idea is that; post incorporation might just give team CM a bit of a clout to get OEMs to put sources/docs out to them and play ball, as most hw parts are directly out of non-OEMs prerogative. Frankly I won’t put my hopes that far up as in the case of Samsung for example. They repeatedly violate their GPL license at closing parts of their sources. Until their attitude in that regard change, doesn’t matter if “indie” or corporate CM can influence that much.

  6. I want to know how you get 7 million dollars without apparently even a plan to ever repay any of it. There must be something in the works.

  7. CyanogenMod for the average user, I love it! If nothing else, this should help put the screws to manufacturers and carriers that are ruining a great OS with “features” that do nothing but take up space, muck things up and generally annoy everyone. Upgrading my phone via CM breathed new life into my phone making it faster and more enjoyable to use. I would be more than willing to help others I know switch to CM too but the amount of time and effort it takes me to make sure I am following the right process and using the right files for each device is just too time consuming to be practical. This could fix that and truly make CM viable for the average user.

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