Cyanogen has been steadily making the transition from a niche Android mod to a full fledged mobile business, but with several new hires the company says it’s paving the way for rapid expansion in the coming years. After scooping up three industry veterans, Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster tells Re/code he’s ready to compete directly with companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
This week the company will announce several major hires. First is former Amazon, Microsoft and Hulu exec Dave Herman, who’s slated to take over as Cyanogen’s VP of product. He’ll be joined by Tyler Carper, a former engineering director from HTC who’s set to run the company’s engineering department. Finally there’s Vik Natarajan, a former MediaTek and Broadcom executive who’s taking over as VP of global partnerships and distribution.
In the past 12 months Cyanogen software has shipped pre-installed on two new smartphones. The company also offered a short-lived Google Play app to help users install Cyanogenmod on their own devices. Moving forward, the company says it plans to work with even more phone-makers. Cyanogen hopes to position itself as a neutral alternative to the versions of Android pushed by Google, Amazon and others, without forcing any specific services on customers. “We’re kind of like Switzerland,” McMaster says.
Cyanogen has already made a big name for itself in Android communities, but branching out to mainstream consumers will be extremely difficult in the face of competition from Google, Samsung and Amazon’s new Fire Phone—not to mention the iPhone. Unlike a lot of other Android skins, however, Cyanogen offers something that’s both practical and special at once, and we hope it’s not too long before the next Cyanogen smartphone hits the market.