2018 was a whirlwind for the KaiOS Technologies team; a year that brought remarkable growth and meaningful advancements not just for our company, but for the markets and users we look to serve.
We took important strides toward closing the digital divide by establishing impactful partnerships, expanding into new regions, and bringing some of the world’s most affordable smart feature phones to countries whose device options were previously lacking. Though Kai is a young company, we’re quickly gaining momentum in our mission to drive meaningful, global change, and we look forward to furthering that mission in 2019.
Here are just a few of the amazing highlights from the last year.
Google invested in KaiOS and brought its suite of apps to our platform
We strengthened our strategic partnership with Google through a $22M Series A investment, a collaboration that resulted from our shared mission to connect the next billion users. Importantly, this partnership also helped facilitate broad access to Google’s apps and services—including Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Search—to users of KaiOS-powered devices across the world.
Kai and WizPhone partnered to bring the first affordable smart feature phone to Indonesia
7 US dollars, that’s the price of the new WizPhone that runs on KaiOS and is rolling out in Indonesia in Q1 2019. It’s the most affordable KaiOS-powered smart feature phone currently on the global market. The partnership with WizPhone was announced in November of last year and is the first of its kind. Through the involvement of a local bank and retail chain—who help subsidize the device—the $7 price point became a reality. Another noteworthy aspect of the cooperation is the distribution of the phones: they will be sold in vending machines across the 10,000-store network of Alfamart, the retailer involved in the project. We’re thrilled to introduce such a cost-effective option and are happy to lay the groundwork for similar partnerships in the future.
Reliance Jio and the JioPhone topped Fortune’s Change the World list
Our valued partner Reliance Jio was ranked No. 1 on Fortune’s Change the World list for its contributions to expanding access to the internet in emerging markets. We’re proud that KaiOS powers the wildly successful JioPhone, and that together with Reliance Jio we’re working toward connecting the next billion. The success of the JioPhone serves as an excellent blueprint for launching devices in other countries and was the driving force behind our recent announcement to bring a collection of new smart feature phones to Africa in 2019.
KaiOS took MWC by storm
At MWC Barcelona in February 2018, we made several important announcements aimed at offering superior access and services to our customers. Among these were partnerships to bring popular apps like Facebook and Twitter to KaiOS, plus other collaborations with manufacturers and chipset makers to expand our suite of products. Then, at MWC Shanghai in June, KaiOS was named the Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough, an honor granted to those companies that make strides in expanding and enhancing the mobile ecosystem.
The Nokia Banana Phone was reintroduced, powered by KaiOS
“Matrix” fans and Nokia lovers rejoiced when the 8110 “Banana Phone” was reintroduced to the global market at MWC 2018 in Barcelona. This was an important moment for feature phones because the traditionally basic, non-flashy devices received a vibrant and culturally relevant update that still packed an important digital punch, thanks to KaiOS’ functionality. [Bonus: TechAltar posted a great video about KaiOS featuring the Banana phone, if you want to see it in action.]
From zero to one
In just twelve months, we’ve seen the smart feature phones we power go from a big question mark to an established product category grabbing the attention of many people in the mobile industry. In no small part that’s thanks to the remarkable dedication of the Kai team and our valued partners, and we’re starting this new year well-equipped and tracking toward even our most ambitious goals.
While we can’t spill too many details, there’s a lot of exciting news coming in 2019 — keep checking our blog for the latest Kai news!