Mozilla ended development on its smartphone operating system, Firefox OS, at the beginning of 2017. But since it was open-source, other companies have used the code for new products. KaiOS is one fork of Firefox OS, and was first released in March of 2017. Google has already developed applications for KaiOS, but now it's investing $22 million into the company building it.

Only a handful of devices have shipped with KaiOS at this point, including the Alcatel OneTouch Go Flip, the Reliance Jio JioPhone, and the Nokia 8810 4G (although the 8810 runs a tweaked version). Like Firefox OS, apps are written in web technologies like HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS. The app store includes applications like Facebook, Twitter, Google Assistant, The Weather Channel, and Google Maps.

It will be interesting to see where KaiOS goes from here. Feature phones have largely become a niche worldwide, but perhaps there is demand for simpler devices with essential modern apps.

Press Release

Hong Kong, June 28, 2018 – KaiOS Technologies Inc., developer of the emerging operating system for smart feature phones, KaiOS, today announced a $22M Series A investment from Google to help bring the internet to the next generation of users.

“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.

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.

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

“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, Product Management, Next Billion Users. “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.”

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

About KaiOS Technologies
KaiOS Technologies powers an emerging ecosystem of affordable digital products and services. Our flagship product, KaiOS, is a web-based operating system that enables a new category of smart feature phones and other IoT devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience. Our mission is to help bridge the digital divide — connecting the billions of people in emerging markets who still don’t have internet access, as well as those in established markets who are looking for easy-to-use phones with advanced functionality.