I recently read a somewhat shocking interview with Kirt McMaster, CEO of a company called Cyanogen, where he said that Samsung was going to be the next Nokia and was going to get “slaughtered” in coming years. He went on to say that Apple (Apple!!) itself was going to have trouble. Within 5 years. Needless to say I wanted to dig deeper and learn more about Cyanogen and it’s product, CyanogenMod, which McMaster promises will be a very disruptive force in the not-too-distant future of the mobile industry. To learn more I spoke with Steve Kondik, Cyanogen’s CTO.
What do you mean when you say “open OS”? What does this mean to the non-techie end-user?
Steve Kondik: That’s a great question. Open OS is not the same thing as open source. The concept of the open OS is securely enabling 3rd party developers to become more deeply integrated with the operating system—something they simply can’t do today on either Google Android and iOS, which favor their own native services. From the smartphone user’s perspective, an open OS is fundamentally about user choice and being able to choose your core default apps and services (i.e. personal assistant, maps, browser, entertainment, etc.). Market by market, there is significant variation on what people use around the world. A one-size fits all approach doesn’t work, and we fundamentally believe in user choice.
How do you keep users of an open OS from making their phones look bad? Should you?
The overall Cyanogen software experience is, and always will be clean. We tune our software to the smartphone hardware devices we ship on, from performance, battery optimization, customization, security and privacy features. We offer theming capabilities, so our users can ‘theme’ their phone user interface, including boot animations, wallpapers, fonts, and 3rd party apps.
How secure is an open OS? At face value, open seems less secure than closed.
Anything we roll out is very secure. Security and privacy is what we’re known for, and our biggest priority. Security is also a cornerstone of the independent open-source community project we back, CyanogenMod (CM). A lot has been written about Cyanogen OS (our commercial distribution) and CyanogenMod (open-source project) when it comes to security and privacy features above and beyond stock Android.
What one thing should current iPhone users know about the future Cyanogen OS offers?
Cyanogen OS is really about empowering smartphone users – from the look and feel of your user interface down to your individual user experiences. As we develop our platform, ultimately smartphone users benefit in being able to choose their default apps and services that operate seamlessly and intuitively based on how you use your phone.