Microsoft is said to be investing in rival mobile operating system Cyanogen in an apparent attempt to help pry Android out of the hands of Google.
People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that Microsoft be a minority investor in a $70 million round of funding that would value the company in the high hundreds of thousands. One person said the financing round could grow as other investors eager to loosen Google’s grip on Android have also expressed interest.
Such an investment may seem odd considering Microsoft has its own mobile operating system in Windows Phone. What’s more, Microsoft also has a dog in the fight as it earns substantial royalties from Android devices. So, what gives?
For starters, Windows Phone has a small market share of about three percent. But what has upset manufacturers in recent years is the fact that the search giant is requiring handset makers to include Google apps on their devices and to set Google as the default search engine in exchange for access to YouTube, its search engine and the millions of apps in the Play Store.
As such, competing apps are having a hard time with distribution on Android devices. One relevant example is the fact that Microsoft’s Bing search engine is getting less exposure than it otherwise might.
Cyanogen is an alternative version of Android that doesn’t come bundled with such restrictions. Its CEO, Kirt McMaster, is steadfast in his pursuit of separating Android from Google. In an interview just last week, he went on the record by saying his company was going to take Android away from Google.