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Google Invests $22 Million in KaiOS

Global tech giant, Google, in the quest to propel its Next Billion Users program, which aims to give everyone – from a child in rural Africa to a tech geek in Cupertino – equal access to the internet’s wealth; has invested USD 22 million in KaiOS Technologies Inc., which develops a unique operating system for feature phones that provides a suite of native apps and other smartphone-like features. KaiOS users will now be able to access a host of Google services including Google assistant, Google maps, YouTube, and Google search.

KaiOS has partnered with manufacturers like TCL Corporation, HMD Global, and Micromax; and is compatible with carriers such as Reliance Jio, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

Tarun Pathak of Counterpoint, as reported in the Economic Times, said,”KaiOS has helped bridge the digital divide for hundreds of millions of feature phone users who were not upgrading to smart-phones due to steep learning curve or pricing or digital illiteracy.”

The partnership has repercussions for India as well, as KoiOS has assisted in raising demands of feature phones in the country. Reliance Jio, with its 4G powered JioPhone, has become the leading feature phone in the first quarter of 2018.

“We want to ensure that Google apps and services are available to everyone, whether they are using desktops, smart-phones, or feature phones,” Anjali Joshi, Vice-President, Product Management, Next Billion Users, said in a statement. “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.”

Within a year, sales of KaiOS powered phones grew by 11,400 per cent, mainly due to the launch of Reliance JioPhone. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, close to 23 million KaiOS phones were shipped.

The operating system was first launched in March 2017; and was formerly known as Firefox OS, but was shelved by Mozilla in 2016. – Business Today

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