In an interview with The Information, Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen's CEO, said the company is looking to create an alternative to Google's Android ecosystem in three to five years, as well as a new app store within 18 months. The statement comes a few months after it was reported that Google wanted to buy Cyanogen.
“We've barely scratched the surface in regards to what mobile can be. Today, Cyanogen has some dependence on Google. Tomorrow, it will not. We will not be based on some derivative of Google in three to five years. There will be services that are doing the same old bulls— with Android, and then there will be something different. That is where we're going here," said McMaster.
Even though the CyanogenMod OS was created initially by the community of open source developers and out of Google's AOSP (Android Open Source Project) code, the OS is still heavily dependent on Google's Play ecosystem right now.
The main "issue" for Cyanogen, or any other company (including a large OEM such as Samsung), when trying to create an alternative ecosystem is that it's an almost impossible task to try to match the original in both quantity and quality, especially after that ecosystem has had some growth momentum.
Google's Play Store already has over 1.5 million apps. If only a small percentage of those are highly useful or entertaining applications, that's still a small percentage of a very large number. Even the Play Store, with this many applications, doesn't have many of the apps that come to iOS first, which shows just how tough it can be to match established ecosystems.
This isn't to say that Cyanogen can't create a relatively successful ecosystem. Amazon has done it with its Fire tablets, even though it has only 280,000 apps and it started with far fewer than that.
There's also a big opportunity for a company such as Cyanogen in China, where Google's services are mostly blocked. The Chinese market is a tough one, especially for non-locals, with other successful Chinese companies such as Xiaomi or Lenovo already fighting in that market. However, while Xiaomi or Lenovo may not be interested in using the CyanogenMod OS, other smaller players in that market may be, because CyanogenMod is a more recognized OS than what those smaller players may be using.