If you’ve ever owned an Android phone and have even lightly explored the world of custom ROMs and modifications, chances are you’ve seen the name CyanogenMod. It is the most popular variant of Android available through the modding community, and it’s been loved by its supporters for its rapid updates, stability, battery life, and intelligent enhancements to Android. It’s also offered a way for older devices to be updated to newer versions of Android long after they’ve been left behind by their carriers or manufacturers.

Until now, the only way to experience CyanogenMod was to modify your own device that shipped with different software. That typically involves a lot of research in modding forums, and a good amount of hacking and trusting software tools of dubious origins. It’s always been a tedious process that requires a fair amount of technical knowledge and the fortitude to chance your smartphone becoming inoperable if something goes awry (not to mention voiding your warranty).

Cyanogen Inc., the company recently formed by the original creators of CyanogenMod, has been trying to change that. After announcing just this past September that it would incorporate and legitimately distribute its altered vision for Android, the company has raised tens of millions of dollars in venture capital and has made promises of grand things to come. Now, thanks to a partnership with Chinese manufacturer Oppo, CyanogenMod is shipping preinstalled on the N1, a $599 Android phone that aims to compete with mainstream behemoths such as the HTC One max. It’s the first time that the general public can experience Cyanogen’s take on Android without having to know the meanings to the words “root” or “bootloader.”

Between the “stock” Android that ships on Google’s own Nexus devices, and the heavily modified variants that Samsung, HTC, LG, and others offer, there are already plenty of ways to experience Android. And the smartphone world is dominated by giant players with deep pockets and impressive, powerful phones.

CyanogenMod has a long uphill battle to climb: it’s trying to make a difference in a market that is largely considered saturated. Even established makers such as BlackBerry have floundered in today’s smartphone market, and the only thing that’s really keeping Windows Phone going is Microsoft’s endless bank account. Cyanogen doesn’t have the legacy of BlackBerry or the cash of Microsoft, but it’s going to compete against Samsung, LG, Apple, and others just the same. That raises the question: is there room, or need, for yet another option in today’s smartphone world?