Google Backs KaiOS With $22 Million In Funding

By Annie Baker ● Updated August 11, 2018

KaiOS has announced that it has received $22 million in Series A funding from Google. KaiOS is a feature phone operating system that was forked from the Mozilla Firefox OS. The investment makes sense because KaiOS is a popular mobile operating system for feature phones in emerging markets across Asia and Africa.

KaiOS ships with a number of Nokia feature phones such as the Nokia 8110. And there are devices manufactured by TCL, Micromax, and HMD Global that ship with KaiOS as well. KaiOS has carrier partnerships with Reliance Jio, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

According to IDC, Google Android has an 85% market share for worldwide smartphone operating systems. The investment is a strategic way for Google to become more involved with feature phones.

Earlier this year, Google built a lighter version of Android called Android Go. Android Go was designed for entry-level smartphones in order to further reach emerging markets as well.

KaiOS / Photo: KaiOS

KaiOS / Photo: KaiOS

“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 KaiOS Technologies chief executive officer Sebastien Codeville in a statement.

Following the investment, Google Assistant will be integrated into KaiOS. And as a result, this will drive more traffic to Google’s products. Google Maps and YouTube will also likely be preinstalled on apps that ship with KaiOS. KaiOS told TechCrunch that over 40 million devices have been shipped with the feature phone operating system thus far.

“We’re excited to work with Google to deliver its services on more mobile devices,” Codeville added. “Having an intelligent voice assistant on an affordable mobile phone is truly revolutionary as it helps overcome some of the limitations a keypad brings.”