What was first touted as an open platform for the development and tech community to cheer about, Android has recently become a platform for Google to flex its advertising muscle. Requiring manufacturers to feature Google apps and, crucially, Google Play on their devices to guarantee access to the newest Android builds, Google has thrown away much of its credibility with developers and manufacturers to try to boost its flagging advertising revenue.
As such, it isn’t surprising to see other industry players arming themselves to build an Android that is unimpeded by what they interpret to be Google’s hypocrisy. Cyanogen, the most vocal and visible opposition to this business practice, have vowed to build a version of Android that is truly open and not controlled by any corporation, specifically not having to feature the Google Play store upon which Google earns substantial revenue.
This is in the interest of many tech giants, obviously. The WSJ has reported that Microsoft is also committing some financial resources to this battle, with investments part of a $70 million round that would value Cyanogen as already being worth hundreds of millions. As it directly battles Google directly with its Windows Phone handsets, Microsoft is shrewdly also supporting efforts to undermine the vital part of Android that makes it so standardized: Google’s ownership.
Disrupting and further fragmenting the Android OS is clearly part of Microsoft’s best interests and should pile onto the list of troubles that Google has recently been experiencing.