Cyanogen Inc., the makers of an alternative Android ROM that last year raised $30 million (in two chunks) in VC funding, from Benchmark Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, to try to turn what has generally been a geek project into something with more mainstream appeal, has named an official hardware partner for its endeavour.
Fittingly enough, this partner, OnePlus, is itself a startup — albeit, one founded by a person with experience of putting CyanogenMod on phones. Namely, former Oppo VP Pete Lau, who had been involved in bringing CyanogenMod to Chinese OEM Oppo’s N1 smartphone.
Lau has clearly decided to take that experience and apply it wholesale, in a new setting — where the effort isn’t an adjunct to business-as-usual Android handsets.
In a blog post announcing the news, OnePlus said: “The CyanogenMod team will work in tandem with us to combine the best hardware with the best software. They are developing a custom version of CyanogenMod with special features and tweaks.”
The first fruit of the partnership is going to be called the rather tongue-twisting OnePlus One. There’s precious little detail at this point about how the phone is going to differ from the N1 running CyanogenMod — not to mention stand out from the more-vanilla-Android crowd. But it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a mid-range device, with a pledge of “the latest and highest spec hardware” for the OnePlus One.
Other descriptors used are “fast, clean and beautiful”, which is all terribly non-specific so it’s a case of wait and see what the partnership delivers. The biggest trick the pair will have to pull off is making CyanogenMod attractive to a more mainstream user than has generally been the case thus far.
The OnePlus One is due to debut in the first half of this year, with a limited launch in “selected markets” initially, but with the aim of broadening availability down the line.