Google is increasingly pushing itself as a startup investor as it has invested $22 million into KaiOS, the company that has built an eponymous operating system for feature phones that packs a range of native apps and other smartphone-like services.
Under the new partnership, Google services like Assistant, Maps, YouTube, and Google Search will be available to KaiOS users, as informed by the Hong Kong company in a post.
KaiOS CEO Sebastien Codeville in a statement,
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.
It is interesting to note that KaiOS has played a significant role in pushing feature phone demand in India helping Reliance Jio to become the leading feature phone brand with its 4G powered JioPhone in Q1 2018, according to Counterpoint Research.
KaiOS is a US-based project which started in 2017 built along the ashes of Mozilla’s failed Firefox OS experiment, as a fork of the Linux codebase. Today, it has leading manufacturers like TCL, HMD Global, and Micromax under its roof and has partnerships with carriers such as Reliance Jio, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
Commenting on the recent development, Anjali Joshi, VP of Product Management for Google’s Next Billion Users division said,
“We want to ensure that Google apps and services are available to everyone, whether they are using desktops, smartphones, or feature phones. Following the success of the Jio Phones, we are excited to work with KaiOS to further improve access to information for feature phone users around the world.”
Additionally, Google services are not the only ones available on KaiOS. It has also added apps of Twitter and Facebook this year along with featuring dedicated apps such as WhatsApp which is coming soon with others that are more basic HTML-5 web apps.