Google's Android mobile OS.
Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Kia Kokalitcheva
March 30, 2016

Google’s version of the popular smartphone operating system Android could potentially see a rival in the U.S.

Mobile carrier AT&T (T) is reportedly exploring the possibility of selling a smartphone powered by Cyanogen, an alternative to the Android operating system popularized and owned by Google (GOOGL), according to a report from The Information, citing anonymous sources. Because Android’s software is “open source,” its code is freely available and can be modified by developers, as Cyanogen has done with its version of Android.

AT&T was reportedly working with Chinese smartphone maker ZTE on the device, although trade sanctions imposed on the company earlier this month has put ZTE’s involvement in jeopardy, according to The Information.

 

The carrier’s interest in the project stems from its desire to pack a smartphone with more of its services like its DirecTV video subscription service and extract more revenues. Though customers can already use these services through existing Android and iOS devices, this Cyanogen-powered phone would give AT&T more control over the devices, design, and revenue it collects. Google currently shares with the carrier revenues from purchases through its app store.

There are still chances that the phone doesn’t materialize, but if it does, it will be the first Cyanogen-powered smartphone sold by a major U.S. carrier.

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