JioPhone Success Prompts Google To Invest $22 Mn In KaiOS

Internet Giant Google has announced an investment of $22 million in KaiOS Technologies, the developer of the operating system used in JioPhone, the hugely successful 4G feature phone Jio developed for its users. In fact, it is the success of the JioPhone that prompted Google to invest in the firm.

“Following the success of the JioPhones, we are excited to work with KaiOS to further improve access to information for feature phone users around the world,” said Anjali Joshi, Vice-President, Product Management, Next Billion Users.

Next Billion Users or NBU is an initiative by Googe to reach out and connect with those people who are not connected to the world of internet and technology because of challenges including lack of access, affordability etc.

“We want to ensure that Google apps and services are available to everyone, whether they are using desktops, smartphones, or feature phones,” she added.

JioPhone that looks like a feature phone but offers almost all the functionalities of a smartphone was launched in July 2017. However, within two quarters, the phone became India’s No. 1 selling 4G feature phone in the country.

KaiOS works closely with manufacturers like TCL, HMD Global, and Micromax and has partnerships with carriers such as Reliance Jio, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. These partners produce affordable devices that include essential functionalities like apps, GPS, 4G/LTE, and Wi-Fi. The Kai team operates out of offices around the world, including San Diego, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Paris, and Bangalore.

“This funding will help us fast-track development and global deployment of KaiOS-enabled smart feature phones, allowing us to connect the vast population that still cannot access the internet, especially in emerging markets,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies.

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, an official statement said. These apps have been developed specifically for the KaiOS platform, which is entirely web-based, using open standards such as HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS.

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