Microsoft's work on Windows Phone hasn't exactly paid off. Recent comScore numbers peg the platform's U.S. usage share at just 3.5%. Microsoft will double down on smartphones with Windows 10, but it may also use other tactics to weaken the competition.
Quoting people "familiar with the matter," the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog reports that Microsoft is about to sink $70 million into Cyanogen, the company behind the Android-based (but not Google-controlled) Cyanogen OS. And Microsoft may not be only investor:
Microsoft would be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing that values Cyanogen in the high hundreds of millions, one of the people said. The person said the financing round could grow with other strategic investors that have expressed interest in Cyanogen because they're also eager to diminish Google's control over Android. The identity of the other potential investors couldn't be learned.
Diminishing Google's control seems to be what Cyanogen is all about. Kirt McMaster, the company's CEO, recently went on record to say, "We're going to take Android away from Google."
Some handsets already come pre-installed with Cyanogen OS. Among them: the OnePlus One, which Scott tested alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus recently. They're few and far between, though, so Microsoft seems to be facing an uphill battle either way.