Google Invests $22 Million In KaiOS For Feature Phones

KaiOS Promo June 28 Home Website Screenshot 2018

Google invested $22 million in KaiOS Technologies, the maker of a self-titled mobile operating system designed for feature phones such as the Nokia 8110 4G and JioPhone. The Hong Kong-based firm accepted Google’s resources as part of a Series A funding round meant to ensure its medium-term sustainability and growth, having said it will use the funds to accelerate the development and deployment of its mobile ecosystem. According to KaiOS Chief Executive Officer Sebastien Codeville, the company and its Alphabet-owned backer are pursuing the same goal – connecting more people to the Internet. Those aligned ambitions are what made KaiOS a natural fit for Google’s investment portfolio, the industry veteran suggested.

The majority of the newly obtained funds will be aimed at improving KaiOS in terms of features, performance, and availability in emerging markets. The Mountain View, California-based tech giant also agreed to work with the startup to make Google Assistant and a number of its other apps available on KaiOS, the duo announced. The artificial intelligence helper itself may be the first to arrive to the OS given how the companies already managed to bring it to last year’s JioPhone, the first feature phone to support Google Assistant. KaiOS is an entirely cloud-based platform relying on open standards such as JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5. HMD Global, TCL, and Micromax are the three handset manufacturers that are currently pre-loading KaiOS on some of their product models, whereas the firm is also collaborating with wireless carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint.

Google’s latest investment is an extension of its strategy aimed at connecting more people to the World Wide Web and eventually turn them into its customers, though the company’s efforts are perfectly complementary; its Android Go platform that launched late last year has been specifically designed to provide a smartphone alternative to contemporary feature phones while still not requiring consumers to commit more than $100 toward a new mobile device.