The makers of the OnePlus One announced plans recently to bring their smartphone to India. But while the version sold in most parts of the world features a custom version of Android developed by Cyanogen, OnePlus is working on a different Android-based operating system for its Indian customers.
Still, the original plan had been to ship phones with Cyanogen OS and then roll out new firmware through a software update. But an Indian court has put a stop to those plans: OnePlus has been barred from selling its phone in India, at least for now.
12/24/2014 Update: The Delhi High Court has overturned that ruling.
The court order prevents OnePlus from “marketing, selling, and shipping” phones in India if it has the Cyanogen mark on it, although any remaining inventory that’s already in the country can be “disposed of.”
At issue is a deal Cyanogen has stuck with a rival phone maker. Micromax plans to launch a new brand called Yu Digital today in an attempt to offer high-quality phones at mid-range prices. Those phones will be powered by Cyanogen software and Micromax and Cyanogen have an agreement that says Micromax will have exclusive rights to Cyanogen OS in the country.
That means no other companies can ship phones with Cyanogen OS.
Note that there’s a difference between Cyanogen OS and CyanogenMod. The latter is an open source operating system based on Google Android that’s maintained by a community of independent developers. But after a few years of working on CyanogenMod, the founder of the project and a small group of developers created a for-profit company that produces a commercial version of the operating system called Cyanogen OS.
It’s still based on open source software, but Cyanogen OS includes proprietary code and unlike CyanogenMod it has Google Mobile Services certification which allows companies such as Micromax and OnePlus to ship devices that have the Google Play Store and other Google apps pre-loaded.
In other words, the Indian court ruling isn’t preventing anyone from installing CyanogenMod on their own phones. But it could stop OnePlus from selling its phones in the country… at least until it replaces Cyanogen software on its devices with a different version of Android.
You can read the court documents for more details. It’s a pretty engaging read, and includes emails between folks at OnePlus and Cyanogen that shows just how messy things got between the two companies (as well as a threat from Cyanogen to stop supporting OnePlus phones around the globe and not just in India).