Cyanogen is starting to gain footing in the emerging markets, following a partnership with the number one Indian smartphone maker Micromax and the growth of its ROM through OnePlus One sales in 2014.
It is now looking to impact all of the smartphones sold in Asia-Pacific, through a partnership with Qualcomm offering a turnkey processing unit, which can load a variety of Android ROMs on the same device.
Qualcomm wants to remove the need for local smartphone makers to hire software designers and developers, allowing them to choose the best ROM for the region.
This new turnkey feature will be the death of Samsung and Apple, according to Cyanogen CEO Kirt McMaster. The budget smartphone is where most emerging market see value, and Samsung is not performing as well in regions where local providers offer high-quality smartphones.
McMaster points to Micromax as the main example of Samsung being knocked off the top spot in under eight months, and Xiaomi had similar success removing Samsung from China in two years.
The lack of interest for high-cost devices is going to affect Apple as well in the long term, says McMaster. Despite the excellent performance of Apple’s iPhone in Asia over the second-half of 2014, he believes people will eventually move to local operators.
This is a little more questionable, considering Apple steamrolled both Samsung and Xiaomi in China in the fourth quarter of 2014, and looks to establish itself even more in the region with the launch of the iPhone 6S Mini this year.
Cyanogen obviously wants Apple and Samsung out of the picture, since they are unlikely to partner with the ROM provider. Local manufacturers are much more eager to grab an already developed and loved skin, instead of hiring their own team.
Smartphone trends do show the company on top tends to drop off after five years of dominance, including BlackBerry and Nokia, both have failed to gain the same traction they had 10/20 years ago.