Google Invests RM89 Million In Nokia Feature Phone Operating System

A Nokia device running KaiOS

A Nokia device running KaiOS

The $22 million Series A investment will help "fast-track development and global deployment of KaiOS-enabled smart feature phones".

Google and California-based KaiOS have also agreed to work together to make the Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube and Google Search available to the feature phones that KaiOS powers, the company said in a statement. The announcement says that these will be built specifically for the platform, and will be web based. KaiOS states that it works closely with manufacturers like TCL, HMD Global, and Micromax. Carrier partners include Reliance Jio, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. The end result of these partnerships is that users in emerging markets have access to affordable devices that support apps, GPS, 4G LTE connectivity, and built-in Wi-Fi. The Kai team operates out of offices around the world, including San Diego, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Paris, and Bangalore.

"We're excited to work with Google to deliver its services on more mobile devices", said KaiOS CEO Sebastien Codeville. Google's investment will expedite the launch of KaiOS devices. According to a study by DeviceAtlas, KaiOS surpassed iOS as the second most used operating system in India with a 15% share of the market, pulling in second to Android, which is highest selling OS in India."Reliance Jio, India's third largest operator with over 160 million subscribers, have in recent months taken the tariff war to the next level, and as a result, their branded devices dominate the feature phone landscape", the study states.

The most basic factor is the affordability, which is the prime concern for the most buyers of feature phones, particularly in a market like India.

For the most part, KaiOS is seen in Nokia phones like the new 8110.

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"We want to ensure that Google apps and services are available to everyone, whether they are using desktops, smartphones, or feature phones", said Anjali Joshi, vice president of product management, Next Billion Users, Google. India's popular smart-feature phone 'JioPhone' also runs on KaiOS which has helped popularize and grow the operating system in the country.

Reliance Jio, after it's industry-changing debut in the Indian telecom market entered the feature phone market, allowing 4G internet access to million of users in India.

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