But for users, what's the value?
"Cyanogen is sort of a way to fix things on a smartphone, not really to re-create the wheel," Stofega added. "With Cyanogen on a device, it allows you to take full advantage of the phone's processor core, for faster speeds, and certain apps give better security. It offers simple things not offered yet in the app storefronts, such as the ability to change the layout of the interface and to get much more out of your camera."
One thing missing from the Cyanogen story thus far is published benchmark testing results of how much faster it can perform than standard Android, Stofega said. The Cyanogen website details a few "favorite" features, such as PIN Scramble, which randomizes the numbers behind a user's password, to protect against someone spying on a user's PIN strokes or recreating the PIN from the smudges on a screen.
Despite the strong investor backing for Cyanogen Inc. there are detractors.
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates called the Cyanogen OS "a hobbyist hack for smartphones that will never get beyond a very small number of users, relatively speaking." He was referring to Cyanogen's 50 million users, who make up a small portion of the users of the 2+ billion smartphones operating today.
So far, the OS is not supported by any mainline phone makers, Gold said. Users usually get the OS by stripping off an existing OS to reboot with the new Cyanogen. "How many phone users are willing or able to do that?"
Even Stofega admitted that the Cyanogen developer crowd, while well organized under the Cyanogen Inc. leadership and apparently committed for the long haul, has a certain reputation. "They're a lot like a group of hot-rod hobbyists," he said.
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