Home Why Foxconn Might Be Cozying Up To Cyanogen

Why Foxconn Might Be Cozying Up To Cyanogen

Foxconn, the renowned—or infamous—Taiwanese contract manufacturer of iPhones and other gadgets, may be looking at building a smartphone of its own.

On Tuesday, Foxconn (formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry) made a “strategic investment” in Cyanogen, the Google-free Android alternative that’s been making headlines lately. It offered no reason for the move, so it’s up to us to draw some preliminary conclusions.

Cyanogen provides a very Android-like experience, but with enough different features to make it appealing to those looking to get away from Google.

For years, Foxconn has been one of the tech world’s go-to electronics manufacturers, winning major contracts with Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Huawei, Xiaomi and others. In 2014, Foxconn bought a stake in one of Taiwan’s mobile carriers, Asia Pacific Telecom, showing that the company wants to do more than build other firms’ gadgets. (The carrier subsequently merged with a Foxconn subsidiary.)

So the Foxconn investment in Cyanogen suggests that the manufacturer may be planning to release a smartphone of its own.

Not long after word got out about Microsoft’s investment in Cyanogen, the two companies made public a partnership in which Cyanogen would distribute Microsoft consumer apps in future versions of its mobile operating system. While Foxconn’s investment in Cyanogen doesn’t necessarily mean it’s joining that club, that certainly sounds like the most likely “strategic” move it could have in mind.

Another data point: Chinese manufacturers Xiaomi and Huawei have been turning heads with their Android handsets for a little while now. Foxconn could be looking to break into the handset market by going a somewhat different road. A Foxconn phone could enjoy all the app compatibility of an Android device, but with the deeper customization its version of the OS makes possible.

Lead photo by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite; CyanogenMod image courtesy of Cyanogen

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