Microsoft reportedly invests in Cyanogen Inc., world predictably freaks out

The Wall Street Journal today on its Digits blog dropped word that Microsoft is "putting money into Cyanogen." No dollar amount figures were listed by the Journal's anonymous sources, thought it is noted that Microsoft "would be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing."

This, of course, means that Google is doomed and Android as we know it is over. The Internet said so shortly after the rumor broke.

Except that's not what it means at all.

Fact is, none of us really knows what Microsoft might be investing in Cyanogen for.

Never mind the talk of the 50 million CyanogenMod users. Or 9,000 volunteer developers. That's rhetoric and a good bit of fuzzy math (and, editorially speaking, a whole lot of padding out a little bit of news), especially when you consider just how many Android devices are out there in the world. (Something like 1 billion alone in 2014, to say nothing of the boom years before it.) And never mind that (excellently worded and predictably misused) "we're attempting to take Android away from Google" quote from Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster that opened his Q&A with The Information. (paywall)

Android truly is becoming a commodity. And the future is all about services. Google's gotten it right. Or, more correctly, it's gotten a lot of things right as it continues to build out new services. (And it's not like Google's ceased development.) Other companies either have their own services — say, Amazon and its Prime Instant Video — or license other services, such as maps. Microsoft half-heartedly attempted to do the same thing with Nokia X in emerging markets in 2014 — Android underneath, and Microsoft services on top.

And Bloomberg chimed in as well with its own anonymous source with more of the same, saying this investment is "about creating a version of the Android mobile-operating system that's more friendly to Microsoft services."

So what do we know now? Not a whole hell of a lot. A few anonymous sources saying Microsoft's giving Cyanogen (the company) some funding. At this point, it'd be damned near silly to not invest in Android somehow, in some way.

Phil Nickinson