Android, iOS, and…CyanogenMod for Third Mobile Platform?

With Android and iOS ensconced as the Nos. 1 and 2 mobile platforms, others -- including Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Firefox OS -- have been jockeying for third place. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, an Android replacement called CyanogenMod has landed a big round of funding -- and may be positioned to land in that coveted position.

On Thursday, Cyanogen Inc. announced it had successfully closed $23 million in Series B financing with its partners at Andreessen Horowitz and other venture capital firms. In September, the company announced its initial $7 million round, which took the effort from being a hobbyist activity to becoming an active company.

CyanogenMod is a custom Android ROM that, over the last several years, has been used by Android phone owners who wanted to flash and replace their existing Android installation on their phones, in order to obtain improved performance or additional features like mobile Wi-Fi hot spots. The custom replacement OS is a full version of Android but without the special user interface or other specialized features that have been added by manufacturers. Additionally, CyanogenMod is driven by the energy of a growing community of developers.

11 Million Users

Cyanogen Inc. founder Steve Kondik, a former employee of Samsung, has pushed the availability of a simple installer so that a larger group of users could employ the substitute OS, instead of primarily developers. The company currently employs nearly two dozen people, and is expected to add up to four dozen more in the next six months.

According to Cyanogen, its software has 11 million users worldwide, particularly in China, where modification of Android is popular. Reportedly, there are about 25 million users in China who had engaged in some form of Android modification, and as many as 60 million worldwide. By contrast, analysts have projected that Windows Phone users...

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