KaiOS, which builds software for JioPhone, gets major funding from Google


In addition to the investment, Google and KaiOS have also agreed to work together to make the Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search available to KaiOS users. While India is home to the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world, the size of its feature phone market continues to be just as large.

KaiOS has partnerships with telecom operators like Reliance Jio and Sprint and works closely with manufacturers like TCL, HMD Global, and Micromax. Counterpoint states KaiOS' "lightweight operating system" with a user interface that can be optimised for non-touch or feature phones is "powering tens of millions of users". Anjali Joshi, vice-president, product management, Next Billion Users, said in a statement.

Reliance Jio disrupted the feature phone market past year when it launched its 4G feature smartphone at an effective price of Rs 0.

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The investment from Google is in line with its Next Billion Users initiative that looks at connecting and serving new Internet users or those for whom it is still hard to get online. While Firefox OS never really took off, KaiOS seems to be doing a decent job of providing a gateway to internet portals for feature phone users.

The KaiOS Technologies powered Jio Phones have done extremely well in the feature phone segment in India.

Google has done a pretty good job at establishing Android as one of the two main mobile operating systems for high-end devices alongside Apple's iOS, but if it wants to establish itself in emerging markets it needs to have software that can run on much lower powered devices.

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KaiOS has uplifted a new generation of devices known as smart feature phones that are basically phones with improved hardware, support for modern apps and include smart connectivity options. Google senses an opportunity to hold on to such users even if they are in the feature phone category. With such funding from a tech giant like Google, the company is all set to revolutionize the smartphone feature market. In fact, KaiOS's share in the Indian OS market has grown as high as 15% with the exponential growth of Reliance Jio's JioPhones.

Facebook and Twitter apps are already available and WhatsApp is on the way too.

KaiOS is now Google funded! While the suite of apps now is limited, thanks to the lack of an app store, Google wants to change this by providing Google services like Maps, Google Assistant, etc. for internet users in emerging markets.

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