BLU is making a Cyanogen OS phone later this year that won’t have any Google services



Cyanogen has been alluding to this for a while now, but they’re about to partner with someone on a phone that doesn’t rely on any of Google’s services. That much was revealed to Forbes in a profile about the up-and-coming company after they’d announced an $80 million Series C funding spurt.

The partner is BLU, a budding maker of budget smartphones that actually aren’t bad for their low cost. The details are thin right now, but the smartphone is said to be on tap later this year and will use a variety of apps and services to replace what Google’s suite provides. Here are just a few examples of which apps BLU’s CEO thinks can be used to replace the popular ones Google provides:

  • Amazon’s app store for downloading new apps and games
  • Opera’s web browser
  • Nokia Here for maps and navigation
  • Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive for cloud storage
  • Spotify for music.
  • Bing for search
  • Microsoft’s Cortana as a replacement for Google Now

But the big question remains: will this be successful? If so, how? And — more importantly — why do they even want to do this? Kirt McMaster’s promise to “take Android from Google” was recently reiterated by stating he believed his company was going to put “a bullet through Google’s head.”

Cyanogen Inc new logo

At this point, Cyanogen’s motives don’t seem all that clear. If we’re to draw examples from a high school social setting, their behavior (or that of the mouthy CEO’s, anyway) is akin to taking the ball from the 10 other kids enjoying a fun game of kickball for no reason than to be heady and rebellious.

Perhaps the reason isn’t clear to someone not involved with the day-to-day workings of the company, but our idea of making a new OS with a new ecosystem and new services isn’t “we’re going to dump everything Google, and replace them with offerings from other random companies.” One might assume this play is simply about money, and Cyanogen’s only gravy train is to strike deals with developers and companies to get their apps preloaded on these devices.

With no apparent rhyme or reason Cyanogen wants to be as far away from Google as possible, and we still have no idea why. It’d be nice to know, though, so we’re hoping those questions are answered as we inch closer to the release of this smartphone (and we’re hoping they’re answered in a far more tolerable tone than McMaster’s latest blurts).

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. fail in 3…2…1

  2. “With no apparent rhyme or reason Cyanogen wants to be as far away from Google as possible, and we still have no idea why.”

    “Why?” …is the wrong question. The correct question is, if there’s a viable product, then why not?

  3. Is it wise to put a bullet through the head of the company doing the actual development of the OS you are using?

  4. Who just shot themselves in the head? Hope they fail miserably. Serves them right.

  5. I’m for getting away from Google they are getting too big. But why kill them why not make a better product and go head to head and coexist. More options for the consumers the more the consumer benefits. Hope even blackberry make a comeback they are now also using the Amazon app store

  6. I have been saying that CM sucks from the first time they wanted to make their own phone. I don’t care if they make their own OS because it will suck just as much as it does now, actually even more. I hope everything works out for them. As long as they take a small portion out of Apple and MS I am happy. When I mean a small portion I do mean .00000001% hahaha

  7. No thanks

    1. I’m sure this phone would be nice for those that are looking to purchase their first smartphone or for your grandmother that doesn’t know or care about apps like these. However, Cyanogen’s main target audience, to me at least, seems like it should be the tech savvy bunch and this sort of thing just alienates those people.

      1. not to mention that target group of first time smartphone owners and older people who dont do much other than talk, will also be good candidates for Moto G and E phones. good luck competing with a well known OEM and google apps on near stock android.

      2. So then when they try to venture into using some of those apps and the experience sucks they blame it on android and switch to the iphone.

    2. Bing has been far superior to Google for years now, what’s the problem? Take off your fanboy goggles.

      1. You have facts to back this up or are you just wearing fanboy goggles?

        1. I quit m­y old work a­nd now I am making 85 bucks per/h. How? I am freelancing online! My last job was making me unhappy ,s­­o I made a decision to take my chance with something new… After two yrs…I can say it was a best decision I ever made! Here’s what I do> -> WORK WHEN YOU WANT <-

      2. Bing search is a huge no no to me, especially after my very first wp, nice wallpaper and all but search with bing? one word = EWW

  8. Is it me or are all of those apps listed that Cyanogen wants to use, apps that arent tied to successful phones? amazon app store-fire phone, Nokia maps-windows phones, Bing & Cortana-windows phones. Not familiar with opera, but spotify and drop box are popular and respectable alternatives.

  9. It sounds like Cyanogen doesn’t want to pay to include the Google Play store nor Google Services with “their” version of Android. What they are doing is trying to establish a basic OS and then use whatever app/appstore you want. Google on the other hand, tries to encourage everyone to use their products, but I assume they charge vendors to include Google products with the vendor product (in this case, Cyanogen OS). In any case, competition is good. But this just makes Cyanogen look bad with what the guy is saying.

  10. Hipster!

  11. Seriously, just to get away from Google they create a mishmash of services and bloat?!
    That’s going ass backwards my friend, this is why Apple eats everyone’s lunch…INTEGRATED SERVICES aka ECOSYSTEM…..I usually don’t do this but this is a fail even before it begins…..

  12. Dream on.

  13. This will be for the people that live the Android OS but are really into Microsoft services. Except for the Amazon App store, which is horrible.

    1. Amazon’s app store is definitely horrendous when compared to Google’s. I can’t even begin to understand the thought process here.

  14. Let me help you refine that headline:

    “BLU is making a Cyanogen OS phone later this year that won’t have any buyers”

  15. There was a shot here at a viable business model if CM could have convinced more device makers that the OS was a commodity and that offloading development and support of the Android bits to them made sense. Apparently that’s not gone well, and CM’s shady/dishonest dealings with Oneplus suggest that they’re not really trustworthy as a strategic partner, so I guess this is them grasping at straws?

  16. Amazon for apps? God that’s already a no-go. Their app store is horrible, and apps rarely get update on it.
    And instead of riding GOogle’s back for services, they’re going to ride on Microsoft’s back in the mean time? I wonder how long it’s going to take until they bite Microsoft’s hand as well.

    Nice knowing you Cyanogen.

  17. Lol, fail. Opera? Hilarious. Seriously though, screw CM for spitting in the eye of google.

  18. The more I read about CM and the new direction they; along with their cocky CEO are taking, the more I hope they fail. Amazon apps are crap and never see updates timely. Opera… Really… BING??? You have to be joking. They just Blu it in my opinion

    1. Those guys are just selling out.

    2. I see what you did there.

  19. With the amount of MS services running on this, might as well call it a WinPhone

  20. I wouldn’t mind seeing a high-grade shot at an alternative to Amazon and Google, but this is laughable.

  21. So cynogen goes indie and then sells out? It seems that they can’t improve on android until Google makes an upgrade to their os and then they follow pursuit. To me they’re nothing more than parasites.

    1. A parasite that is seemingly trying to reject it’s host.

  22. The deal means that BLU is going to import a phone from a Chinese OEM that already has a local deal with Cyanogen and will merely swap bands and swap the software payload. BLU doesn’t actually manufacture devices, they just do volume purchases from Chinese OEMs and handle local warranty and distro. Calling BLU a local manufacturer is incorrect.

  23. This will show all those Apple fanatics we don’t have a fragmentation issue in Android

    1. Everybody tries to steal android and claim they can make it better than Google, then have to wait on the latest version of android in order to bring a new experience that’s already available.

      1. Google can’t really talk about making a better experience when they released crappy, bug riddled Lollipop to the world…..

        1. Dude every version of anything has bugs, that’s just a software thing seriously. What’s your issue with Google?

          1. @Norio It seems as if xdigi has been butthurt by Google in some form or fashion

        2. Didn’t apple do the same with iOS 8? The point I’m trying to make is everyone makes mistakes, chill out.

  24. This is going to be terrible and full of bugs……

  25. Never bite the hand that feeds you, Cyanogenmod is doing EXACTLY that…..they’ll learn.

    1. or die without learning a thing,and blame google for their own failures – which is seeming like the more likely proposition at this point.

  26. I’m so confused as to what that whole team is doing. Probably why they are entering the budget market where that nonsense might fly for the ill informed. But, I will say that they are living up to their team name cause they are acting like Douche bags.

  27. Good luck getting away from Gmail and Youtube.

    1. Gmail isn’t that great (IMAP and are far superior) and you can’t type in into a browser?

      1. The Outlook app is laughable because it’s so beta. It shouldn’t even be int he Play Store because all it is doing is embarrassing Microsoft. Using email addresses may be better, but I’ll never be able to get away from my gmail one. There are too many ding dongs out there that don’t know how to update their contacts. I’ll be checking it until the day I die.

        Re: Youtube… I know how to type a url into a browser, but is that really an improvement over the app? Taking an open sourced Google based operating system and moving away from Google won’t necessarily lead to a better experience. Will this device be able to Chromecast without Google? Isn’t the point to make improvements? Oh well, I guess the consumers will speak based on the success of the device. Based on Blu’s current success in the market, I wouldn’t hold my breath for this thing being a success.

        1. The Outlook app is so much better compared to the broken, horrible piece of trash Google calls Gmail 5.0.

          And the website is so much better than the app, which is a bloated, bloated mess.

          Google’s Android is also anything but open source.

    2. Use the browser?

  28. I don’t see the point. Amazon is decent but not Google Play.

  29. A phone without Google spyware + Android sounds great!

    The only problem is Amazon, with their terrible business practices. I wish someone would come out with a decent alternative like Mozilla or something.

    1. Yeah, except it’s not spyware… Google is very upfront with the fact they are collecting information about you via those apps. But you sound so much more hip and edgy calling it that though!

        1. Seriously? 2012? And it doesn’t even pertain to Android? Have any, I don’t know, more recent examples that actual affect the platform we are discussing?

          1. Why does it have to pertain to Android. You said Google is upfront and that shows they’re not. Stop spinning.

      1. Nice. I like what you did there.

    2. Their collection of data on you helps them make better products for you the user and so they may present advertisments that actually cater to your interests. Where is the harm in that?

      1. See this all the time and it doesn’t get any truer. Displaying ads, fine. Collecting data for personal targeted ads? No. And what have they done since Search that has been an actual improvement? Gmail? Doesn’t count – it’s just a skin on an already existing product. Android? They bought that. They’ve done nothing since then, so all that data only exists to feed Doubleclick, the biggest privacy violator of the internet.

        1. I have to disagree if you use Google Now enough there are plenty of cards that pop up based on your search’s, same as in the play store when your friends install new apps or rate them in the play store. Even if they were selling any amount of the data they collect on us we all agreed to it whenever we hit “I aceept/agree”. I’ve received many responses like yours as well as, and all I can say is if you don’t like Google having your information don’t give it to them. Don’t use Google for searches, Chrome for browsing, Android, Google Maps, etc.

          1. Well said.

        2. When they bought Android, it was still a Blackberry/Windows Mobile knockoff. I think it’s safe to say Google has made plenty of actual improvements to Android. And you’re ignoring other great products that have come out of Google since search such as Maps and Chrome.

          1. They changed the look, the OS was already built.

            And maps have been around long before Google and Chrome is a browser that’s brought nothing new to the table. It has all the features that Firefox have had long before.

        3. Hey sir, you dropped your tin foil hat.

    3. Bow down to your Chinese overlords instead, because that’s what Blu and Cyanogen will bring to this device.

  30. I suspect that the silent majority is already thinking, “Meh, I’ll just install GAPPS, I do it now with CM anyway.”

    And I don’t doubt that CM, Inc. isn’t already thinking the same thing.

  31. Yuck. Color me entirely uninterested. The only way I’d consider a Blu phone without Google services is if it’s easy to put Google services back on it by rooting.

    1. it would have to be an AMAZING device for me to even consider that.

  32. ” If we’re to draw examples from a high school social setting, their behavior (or that of the mouthy CEO’s, anyway) is akin to taking the ball from the 10 other kids enjoying a fun game of kickball for no reason than to be heady and rebellious.”

    Not to nitpick, but I think it’s a important point that the writer’s analogy isn’t accurate. Cyanogen didn’t take anyone’s ball; they are just standing there on the sidelines not inconveniencing anyone, talking about how they are going to set up their own kickball game that’s way better, using this trashcan and that planter box.

    1. Well said.

  33. How is this better? Amazon App Store? One can install any of these apps. Not sure having this mishmash of third-party apps would make for a better experience.

  34. Sounds like fail to me.

  35. I would say partner with Google on improving Android than fragmenting it more. This is a very bad decision. Bring Android on other form factors and at IoT level. Diversify than compete with Google. Without Google, this platform would have failed like Linux at consumer level.

  36. What the what!? Why? Whatever, the new OPPO is kinda interesting right now anyway.

  37. confused…why would I want this…no Google Maps???

  38. So they’re pretty much going to make the Nokia X. Good luck to them. They’re going to need it.

  39. ….? Okay, so I won’t be “partnering” with them anytime soon either. Sort of happy with the Google ecosystem. And also a little disturbed by the CEO’s statement about putting “a bullet in Google’s head”. Good luck!

  40. All aboard the “nope” train.

  41. I have some insight into the Cyanogen development process which might interesting some people

    – The hacker mentality is very much grounded/rooted in the company. Many of the features/functionality/bug fixes are typically hacked together without much long term thought on how to resolve the issue properly. As a result they have a lot of tech debt which continues to pile on.

    – A lot of the original Cyanogen team come from Samsung. The engineering team consists of smart people, though most have just been brought on board because they knew one another at Samsung. They don’t necessary have experience or skill set to manage the company or teams. This is evident in the lack of engineering processes and understanding of agile principles.

    – Integrating with OEM partners takes a lot of planning and preparation which they are ill prepared for. Their continued arrogance and hackish engineering process has made integration with OEM very painful

    – The QA team is completely dysfunctional. The QA manager has zero experience on how to manage a team. There’s lack of understanding of the various different levels of the AOSP stack and what types of testing is needed. There’s no unit, functional,regression or automation testings. There’s no system or dogfooding programs. The team is constantly in reactive mode. Overall the people that have been hired don’t actually understand QA. If you are seeing issues with your devices then this is probably the root cause!

    – Did I mention arrogance? They are completely full of themselves.

    – Stupid people have given them money to over indulge themselves with more stupid arrogant people

  42. I’m sure Gapps is as simple as flashing a zip file, just like its always been.

  43. Choices are good. I would also like to be able to side load google apps on it, if I choose.

  44. Yeah, really digging the “bite the hand that feeds you” mentality. Good luck Cyanogen.

  45. Strange that they didn’t go with the microG stuff for doing OpenStreet Maps instead of the Nokia maps. I am sure that has more to do with the influx of money from Microsoft than anything else.

    Much of the world cannot get Google Apps and the Google Partner fees are quite hefty.
    If you want costs cut, this is about the only way that happens.

    The process for getting a device out is one which is pretty expensive with carriers:
    1. Work with carrier to come up with product
    2. Engineer such a product
    3. Internal Tests
    4. Google Certification
    5. Carrier Device certification
    6. Carrier Network certification
    7. Repeat steps 2 through 6 for as LONG AS A YEAR

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