​Cyanogen rising: 'More users than Windows Mobile and BlackBerry combined'

Cyanogen looks to be positioning itself to be the third smartphone platform - but is outstripping Windows Mobile really a big deal?
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

A Cyanogen employee has boasted the company's 50 million active users makes the platform larger than Windows Mobile and BlackBerry combined.

The Android ROM maker made the claim at the Seattle Code Rush developer conference over the weekend, seeming to suggest that Cyanogen is on its way to becoming the third largest smartphone platform behind iOS and Android.

In line with previous estimates from the company, Cyanogen employee Adnan Begovic told conference delegates that the company had more than 50 million users worldwide, a figure that includes both those who install its Android ROM on rooted devices and people who use the Cyanogen OS that powers devices including the OnePlus One and Yu Plus.

While there's no doubt Cyanogen has established itself as one of the most popular Android ROM companies, it's not quite clear just how worried Microsoft should be about the mobile upstart. Begovic said that Cyanogen is larger than 'Windows Mobile', rather than Windows Phone, Microsoft's mobile OS that currently runs around three percent of today's smartphones. Windows Mobile, however, was Microsoft's earlier operating system for devices, which it abandoned in 2005 in favour of Windows Phone. However, it recently brought the brand back after a fashion with the 'Windows 10 Mobile' moniker.

Despite the recent writedown of its handset business, Microsoft ships around 40 million Windows Phone smartphones a year. Assuming buyers keep their phones for two years, Redmond should have a far large user base than Cyanogen.

However, with Microsoft recently announcing it will radically cut the number of handsets it makes to just a few each year, Cyanogen is likely showing the scale of its ambitions should it manage to strike deals with new Chinese hardware partners.

The Android ROM maker suffered a setback over the summer after the Alcatel OneTouch Hero 2 with Cyanogen OS failed to launch in the US. The next Cyanogen smartphone likely to launch in the US will come from Blu, and will reportedly use Amazon's app store rather than the Google's Play.

However, Cyanogen has recently struck partnerships with both Microsoft and Foxconn after securing $80m in funding earlier this year and appointing senior execs from Amazon and Qualcomm to help scale up its engineering efforts.

After ending its partnership with OnePlus, which sold about one million OnePlus One handsets, Cyanogen's CEO Kirt McMaster said was looking to much bigger hardware partners from China.

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