CyanogenMod, the free/open port of Android, gains traction

Here's a good brief look at the state of CyanogenMod, a free/open fork of the Android operating system that lets you do a lot more with your tablet/phone. I really like the way that CyanogenMod exerts force on the Android ecosystem: back when Google was unwilling to ship a tethering app (even for "Google Experience" phones like the Nexus One), CyanogenMod gave users the choice to tether. I think that the number of users who went to the fork freaked out both Google and the carriers, and in any event, tethering quickly became an official feature of Android.

Now CyanogenMod is toying with the idea of a Banned Apps store, consisting of apps that were banned from Google Marketplace for "no good reason" (generally because they threatened Google or the carriers in some way). It's hard for users to get upset about functionality restrictions that they don't know about, but once their friends get the ability to do more, they'll clamor for it, too.

And Google has a strong incentive to keep up with CyanogenMod's functionality: once you've rooted your device and installed a new OS on it for the first time, it's pretty easy to keep on doing it for future devices. I know I worried a lot the first time, and laughed through subsequent installs -- and the process just keeps getting easier. It's really in Google's interest that Android users not get the CyanogenMod habit, and the best way to prevent that is to keep up with CyanogenMod itself, even if it means sacrificing a little profitability, and that's good for users.

Given the success of CyanogenMod, it should be no surprise that the project is continuing to evolve and grow into new areas. Koushik Dutta, one of the CyanogenMod team members, would like to see an App Store for root apps and apps that are "getting shut down for no good reason." The idea seems pretty handy from a user perspective, and as Dutta points out, could even help fund the CyanogenMod project.

Apparently, Dutta approached Amazon with his idea of bundling their AppStore in CyanogenMod with the provision that Amazon would give CyanogenMod a portion of the sales. Sadly, Amazon brushed Dutta off, so it would appear that this isn't going to happen in the short term. Still, it appears there are a number of users on Google+ that are excited about the project, so hopefully it will come to fruition. Dutta's proposed store would be open-source so it would be available to any custom ROM, not just CyanogenMod.

CyanogenMod Enjoys User Growth, Considers Launching A Banned App Store (via Digg)