Google reveals major investment in feature phones

Google invests $22M in feature phone operating system KaiOS

"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.

Well, with that much amount and persistence, the deal looks promising. KaiOS users will now be able to access a host of Google services including Google assistant, Google maps, YouTube, and Google search.

Since KaiOS-powered phones will now have pre-bundle Google apps, Jio will continue eroding the market share of incumbents including local brands Micromax, Karbonn and telecom companies - Airtel, Vodafone, and Idea. The OS runs on a handful of devices that includes Alcatel OneTouch Go Flip, Reliance Jio JioPhone, and Nokia 8810 4G.

According to the CEO of KaiOS, Sebastian Codeville, the investment from Google would assist in an improved rate of development of deployment of KaiOS-powered smart feature phones globally that can enable connectivity with a large population which is still unable to access the internet noted profoundly in the emerging markets.

Beyond this, the Next Billion business unit works on customizing the Google experience and services to fit the needs of new internet users in emerging markets, including the launch of new services like this neighborhoods app and a successful public WiFi program. Once users get used to smartphone-like features on a dumb phone, it's easier for them to move on to a smartphone, especially an Android smartphone in this case. "We're excited to work with Google to deliver its services on more mobile devices".

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KaiOS is now Google funded!

The KaiOS is a stripped down version of most heavy operating systems like Android and iOS and is used in low-priced feature phones.

KaiOS serves as the brain for a new breed of mobile devices called smart feature phones. There are still such phones today but are actually smarter. So, JioPhones, which feature the KaiOS could have the features of Google Maps, YouTube and Voice Assistant in the near future.

The tech giant makes investments in startups directly via its parent Alphabet Inc. and through two entities-GV, earlier known as Google Ventures, makes investments at the seed and early stage, while CapitalG, earlier known as Google Capital, makes late-stage investments.

The Reliance Jio Phone is available in the market for a security deposit of Rs 1,500, refundable after 3 years. Going back even further, Google announced in December 2017 that it would bring Assistant to the platform.

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