Google Invests In Another Mobile OS Besides Android

July 5, 2018 - 4 minutes read

Google’s been making moves, because, as we all know, it only takes a few months of inactivity for your competitors to make great strides against your progress. It’s what caused Microsoft’s late entry into the mobile game to create minimal waves against Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS mobile operating systems.

Google’s been a heavyweight competitor against Apple. But its Android system is bloated, which any Android user will confirm. The tech giant just invested $22 million in a non-Android mobile OS, KaiOS, to help Google gain a greater market share of foreign emerging markets across the world.

An Established Player Around the World

Many tech enthusiasts may remember KaiOS faintly; that’s because it’s Mozilla’s failed Firefox mobile OS. It’s already in production and use among mobile users all around the world, and the OS works with many phone manufacturers and mobile data carriers.

One of KaiOS’s biggest markets is India; they’ve worked closely with India-based carriers Reliance Jio, alongside Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. Micromax is an Indian mobile manufacturer, and one of KaiOS’s biggest proponents. HMD Global, a Finnish manufacturer, and TCL, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer are other customers using KaiOS in their phones.

The company has offices all over the world, literally: Hong Kong, San Diego, Shanghai, Taipei, Paris, and Bangalore are just a few that are home to KaiOS employees. KaiOS originally began as a fork of Firefox OS’s codebase, and it’s an OS made for feature phones that don’t lose out on their ‘intelligence’ with the minimal OS.

Making Feature Phones More Robust

Anjali Joshi is Vice-President of Product Management on Google’s newest team, Next Billion Users. She says, “We want to ensure that Google apps and services are available to everyone, whether they are using desktops, smartphones, or feature phones. 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.”

Google is working with KaiOS to “make the Google Assistant, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Search available to KaiOS users,” says CEO of KaiOS, Sebastien Codeville. Mobile developers (and web developers) can contribute to KaiOS with a very low entry barrier; it runs on HTML5, CSS, and Javascript. There are more than 40 million KaiOS phones in use, and bringing Google products to the OS will add more Google customers than ever.

Why Move Away From Android?

Google’s not moving completely away from Android. But recently, the company pushed Android to reduce file size by slimming down. Pre-installed apps should become smaller, and ideally, Android should be loaded onto new devices to take up less than 1GB of RAM. Only the future will tell if this is a realistic ambition. Currently, Android still takes up almost 3GB.

On the other hand, KaiOS devices come with 512MB of RAM and 4GB in storage. Feature phones are notoriously lighter than smartphones, but just in case feature phones continue their stronghold on users across the world, Google is set to go.

Will Apple follow in Google’s footsteps? We know that once one of the tech giants makes a move, the others are apt to follow closely in fear that they’ll be left behind if they don’t catch up immediately. Regardless, this is a smart move by Google. It not only benefits the company, but it allows many more users to tap into the potential of its technology.

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