Google has invested a $22 million Series A funding round for KaiOS Technologies, which develops an emerging operating system for smart feature phones.
“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,” wrote Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies, on the company’s website.
A video on YouTube, which appears to have been uploaded by KaiOS, explains the company’s mission. The idea behind this phone and operating system, according to KaiOS, is to give basic internet access to the 54% of the world’s total population who go without and 19% are not connected due to a lack of infrastructure. The remaining 35% cannot afford it. The average price of a smartphone -- about $120 -- is not affordable to people living in emerging markets, and KiaOS wants to change that.
KaiOS, a spinoff from Firefox OS, emerged after Mozilla ended the development of its smartphone operating system in early 2017. Since it was open-sourced, other companies began using the code. Google sits on that list of developers of applications for KaiOS. The OS runs on a handful of devices that includes Alcatel OneTouch Go Flip, Reliance Jio JioPhone, and Nokia 8810 4G.
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.
The company’s team operates from locations in San Diego, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Paris, and Bangalore.