What it is: A company called Cyanogen tried to build a more open, better version of Android, but failed.
If you want to succeed, don’t fight the crowds. Right now, the crowds have pretty much chosen iOS and Android as the two dominant mobile operating systems. Yet back in 2007, some programmers started creating their own open source mobile operating system. Then they decided to fork Android and create their own version of Android called Cyanogen.
The goal as simple. Be just as good as Android but more open. Unfortunately, they failed.
The problem was that both companies and consumers had little reason to switch from Android to Cyanogen. Consumers don’t care what operating system their devices use just as long as it works, and for most people, Android works just fine so there’s little reason to switch. Even worse, there’s less of a reason to switch if you lose all of Googl,e’s services and android compatibility with the huge market of available apps.
Trying to knock off Android makes as much sense as trying to knock off Windows as a desktop operation system. Even though Linux is arguably better, more secure, and far more open than Windows (while also being free), Linux has made little headway into the desktop operating system simply because most people are comfortable with Windows and see little reason to switch. For those who do see a reason to switch, they often just buy a Macintosh. Only tech-savvy users switch to Linux simply because Linux is not as well supported by third parties as Windows and macOS.
The lesson is clear. If companies want people to switch, they have to give them massive reasons to switch. People dumped Blackberry smartphones for iPhones because the iPhone was a massive improvement. People didn’t switch from the iPhone to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system because Windows Phone was not a massive improvement.
Cyanogen failed not because of technical reasons but because of social reasons. Why switch unless there’s a massive, compelling reason to do so? The next time you see a tech startup try to change the world, look at what they’re offering. If they’re not offering a massive improvement over existing technology, there’s a huge chance they’ll simply fail.