Google has just invested $22 million in KaiOS, the company that built an app-packed operating system for feature phones. The move, which gives Google access to previously-untapped markets, will see KaiOS integrate Google services such as maps, Assistant, YouTube and search into devices, which are considered mid-point phones between basic phones and smartphones.
Develop smart feature phone OS
Google’s Android is available on a wide range of low-cost smartphones, which have proved to be increasingly popular in developing economies. But while giving a boost to higher-end feature phones might risk eating into the low-end smartphone market, Google secured a partnership that includes plans to make Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search available to KaiOS users.
Vice President of Google’s Next Billion Users program, Anjali Joshi said that they want to ensure that Google apps and services are available to everyone, whether they are using desktops, smartphones, or feature phones.
CEO of KaiOS, Sebastien Codeville said that the funding will help the company to fast-track development and global deployment of KaiOS-enabled smart feature phones, allowing it to connect the vast population that still cannot access the internet, especially in emerging markets. Google and KaiOS have also agreed to work together to make the Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search available to KaiOS users.