Cyanogen - Flaring the Disruption

Moving from a brand with disruptive offerings to a sustainable disruptive brand  

Today’s brew is for Cyanogen
Brew date: 11th May 2015
Type: Served Hot, to be consumed a.s.a.p.

Here is Cyanogen’s (read as 'Cy from here on) business analysis along with the thoughts to tweak their business model.
To understand Cyanogen’s business model, please read following links:
c) Official website:

The Brew will focus majorly on 4 elements of Cyanogen’s operating model,
a) Business Analysis
b) Improvisations of its Business Strategy
c) Competitor Mapping
d) Organizational aspects

a) Business Analysis:
1)   Like many ventures, Cyanogen at this point, is at cross roads of continuing the startup way or tagging itself as an Organisation. The difference in these both is not just the scale of operations; rather the Startups mainly focus on getting the traction, getting the offering mix right with the markets, along with continually developing the offerings for optimality and as well test the hypothesis of its purpose with respect to consumer needs for short term and long term.

An important criteria to test the purpose, along with mapping the solution to consumer needs, is the degree of innovation ( the continuum of no innovation to complete disruption) of the product/offering, if the offering is generic, where the Consumer needs can be fulfilled with the existing solutions offered in the market, whereas if the Offering is disruptive, the Consumers themselves need to be made aware about their subconscious gaps in the value delivered along with a high need for a proof of concept. The most important keyword here is not the innovation in offering, rather the differential value generated by the existing offering (which Consumer is still satisfied with, and has no additional expectations), and by the self perceived additional benefits the Consumer will experience and accrue by using the disruptive solution.

Cyanogen, in this matter aims to disrupt the markets by offering solutions in various aspects of mobility experience, however both, its markets and its products (solutions) are undergoing evolutions, and which is where, till the time its does not find an optimal balance between Market Size – Offering – High Differential value generated, it will be difficult to finalize either its market potential or offering (Offerings will change along with different segments of markets).

Precisely, Cyanogen is on the progressive trajectory of Mvp (minimum viable product) to Cvp (Consumer viable product), and it should continually test and retest to not only validate its hypothesis but as well evolve to a level where its Cvp is strong enough to disrupt the existing paradigms.

  • Though Cyanogen understands its elements of internal and external success well, it still does not do enough justice to leveraging them. Infact, for quite a lot of their business moves, there does exist conflicts of interests with their core philosophy.

The Brew offers Cyanogen, 2 simple but inter - dependent solutions to go around building things:

a) Having a Strategic direction & USP to its offerings.
Cyanogen needs to define its impact areas (which is as well its philosophy), as Experience Continuum with Customization on one end and Personalisation on the other, Performance and Value. It as well lists Open Source OS as its Key criteria and driver, which will disrupt the existing paradigm.

What needs to be understood is that, the Consumers are not swayed by the ownership of solutions, rather by the value it generates along with the experience, which is where Point A of Business analysis points out that Cy will have to derive its Consumer Viable product (CVP), and going beyond MVP on the lines of key drivers of Customizations, Performance and Personalization (More elaborations in Point 2, Improvisations of Business Strategy).  

The vision of Open Source OS falls back on its principles with Cy collaborating with Software vendors, considering that it will only help App Seller Ecosystem, and might not contribute to Consumer Experience, and as well have conflict with the other Key Drivers of Cy’s strategy, Personalization. (More elaborations in Point 2, Improvisations of Business Strategy).  Rather, Open Source OS is one of the Enablers to the Core benefits of Personalization, Performance, Customization & Experience

b) Developing the existing Competence + Having a coherent Strategy = Building a Competitive Advantage
Cy needs to understand its Primary Competence is the Fraternity of volunteered Android developers across the world, which has powered Cy Mod, and Cy OS. This will be a key success factor for a quite a long time, irrespective of the degree and acceptability of Cy’s offerings. This will help Cy have an edge against other key players while churning out its products. And the most important factor of this competence is it can be upscaled at any point of time with minimal effort, due to its ‘Free to Contribute’ model. This is the most critical key success factor and Cy will have to foresee implications of other non – critical aspects (Read Point 1 of Business Analysis and Last part, Organizational Aspects of Cy).

On the above lines, Cy should as well have a substantial number of volunteered users who can contribute to ‘Free to Test’ with both Hardware and Cy Offerings to test case the degree of usability.

Having a Coherent Strategy is drawn from above of having a Strategic direction (above subpoint a).

Based on the above, Cy can built a competitive advantage by making proprietary frameworks on Algorithms of Personalisation which will drive OS, however this Competitive Advantage should only be built on the Consumer’s side. Collaborating with App Seller ecosystem, will defy Cy's philosophy and result in an unsustainability on the ever evolving continuum of technology.

2) Business Strategy Improvisations:
With the offering continuum of Cy being defined from Customisation to Personalisation in experience, and Performance, these strategic improvisations are drawn from the above-inferred strategic direction,

a) Cy re-enforces its strategic direction to all the stakeholders on 3 Key aspects, Experience Continuum (From Customisation to Personalisation), Performance and mapping it directly to Differential Value Created (Quantum of Additional Value generated, apart from experiential value) and Economic Value Added (improvising the ratio of Value Addition / User’s time & effort spend, extending it to Pre – Install, Install and Post Install phases, along with other Off – setting disadvantages if any)

b) This as well defines the Value Chain of Offerings to a User, along with natural Progression of starting with Cy Mod on existing Mobility devices to instill the Customizations.  The Mod should ideally serve 2 purposes, to Users it should allow customizations, but to Cy, it should relay back the Consumer behavior with respect to other Apps usage aligning to their needs. This is where Cy can then analyse the behavior vis a vis its USP and provide solutions to Consumers to first substitute their usage with App usage to reach Optimality in performance, experience and value and once, when most of the Consumer Behaviors for a User are tracked and bettered, Cy should then encourage the User to move to personalized OS where these Solutions are pre-installed on the data collected and validated earlier.

c) The above refers to a Personalized OS, but even after the Optimality is validated by the Consumer, the Personalized OS continually ever evolves its understanding of User behavior and mapping the same with the new apps available.

d) By building the competitive advantage of Frameworks (Personalization Analytics & Algorithms) of an evolving Personalized OS, Cy can afford to keep the OS open (for other players to tweak) in line with its philosophy for improvements.  As well to note, that Personalized OS is a Combination of Evolving OS + Personalized Apps, which implies having only those Apps in the fold which can recreate the App experience to next level.

e) For Cy starters, where personalized parameters are not captured, Cy will have to be an App Neutral platform with recommendations (derived from frameworks of analytics and algorithms) on enriching personalization experience by understanding User behavior, and hence partnering with existing Software players (like MS, True caller etc) will defy the core purpose. Providing an equal opportunity for other non-proprietary firmware will be the key in Cy Open OS and hence Cyanogen should majorly focus on building the personalization algorithms, and disrupting that paradigm rather then building partnerships with other software players to offer default solutions.

f) Keeping Mod free of Monetisation (along with Recommended Apps usage to be free for some time cos that will attract traction), and shifting the base to the monetized Cy OS with revenue share with other players.

g) On partnering with the Hardware folks, the key will be go with the folks whose hardware performances will beat the contemporary ones for the coming times (not current times) along with Affordability, and rated high on Design element, which can sum up an overall brand and value congruence to the consumer.

h) Post having above in mind, Cy can then focus on building up an App Ecosystem, which focuses on primarily Performance, Degree of Personalization, Experience along with offering value.

i) While it focuses on Its Tech Competence of improving performance by extending battery life, Over – Clocking performance etc, it should as well extend all these key drivers to Desktops, Tablets etc, thus resulting in to sparking a complete disruptionary trend of not accepting the default.

3) Competitor Mapping:
While the idea of competing with Google (or for that matter any other player) can be a good motivator with a lure of capturing existing target market, it as well serves to a disadvantage that one is forced to deliver on already existing solutions and offerings where Concept of Disruption goes kaput.

The Tech firms ideally don’t have a competition considering the pace of change of technologies and the opportunity to drive the tech revolution. Competition only exists in the minds of Consumers, and Cy should take all the steps to not have any competition (not even with Google for that matter) in the minds of Consumers. Helps in playing far greater role than imagined and focus is always on Consumers, not on self-imagined concept of competition.

4) Organizational aspects:
Drawing inferences from the above points of Business Analysis, Strategy and Competition, Cy should continue its journey as a Startup with a strong vision of disrupting the future which will help in getting higher traction and developers and building better products & solutions.

The focus should be on developing this strong vision and conveying the purpose to the stakeholders, and by driving this philosophy as a movement where everybody can contribute and be a part of and once the paradigm is established, it can then be monetized and captured, rather than now focusing on the KPI’s of revenues, profitability and size.

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