At the start of this year’s MWC, Ben Wood, analyst for CCS Insights, correctly predicted that Kai was “quietly going to be one of the important stories at MWC.” While little innovation seemed to be happening in the smartphone segment, there was a steady drumbeat of news around the largely ignored feature phone segment, with most of the noteworthy devices powered by KaiOS.
Leading the pack was the Nokia 8110 4G “banana phone.” A flagship feature phone if ever there was one, this device quickly became the talk of town in Barcelona. But it wasn’t just the yellow HMD/Nokia headliner that brought Kai into the conversation. A Digital Trends Award, as well as numerous other partnership announcements with mobile leaders including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Qualcomm ensured KaiOS Technologies grabbed the industry’s attention.
Amidst all this buzz, Kai’s mission of closing the digital divide also didn’t go unnoticed. We were nominated for a GLOMO Award in the category “social good,” and both Digital Trends and Counterpoint Research dedicated substantial parts of their reporting to our core purpose.
Below is a selection of the most important articles coming out of MWC from industry pundits.
KaiOS announces partnerships with tech giants at MWC
“Quietly, a company called KaiOS, built on a fork of Firefox OS, launched a new version of the OS built specifically for feature phones, and today at MWC in Barcelona the company announced a new wave of milestones around the effort that includes access to apps from Facebook, Twitter and Google in the form of its Voice Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Search; as well as a list of handset makers who will be using the OS in their phones, including HMD/Nokia (which announced its 8110 yesterday), Bullitt, Doro and Micromax; and Qualcomm and Spreadtrum for processing on the inside.”
Ingrid Lunden – TechCrunch
KaiOS wants to close the digital divide
“A relatively-new software company called KaiOS Technologies is bringing an enriched ‘dumb’ phone experience to a market most manufacturers have neglected for the past decade. What’s even more impressive is how the company is bringing modern smartphone apps and experiences to these affordable devices, thanks to entry-level processors in feature phones from chipmakers like Qualcomm.”
Julian Chokkattu – Digital Trends
Digital Trends also presented Kai with an award for Best Emerging Tech! According to the publication, Kai “has initiatives to push local developers in each market to create apps for these regional phones” and “is serving a sizable market that has been neglected since the start of the smartphone revolution.”
Get nostalgic for the 8110 ‘Matrix’ Banana phone
“The new Nokia 8110 is still just a feature phone, running a forked version of the dead Firefox OS created by KaiOS that HMD is calling ‘Smart Feature OS,’ but it has a few things you might not expect from a phone with a real numeric keypad and polycarbonate slider. It’s got 4G, for one. Facebook will also be available through an app store at some point and there will be some form of access to Google’s Assistant, Maps and search, as well as email, texts, Twitter and even Snake.”
“HMD suggests the 8110 is a great ‘weekend phone’ that gives people the chance to switch off, have fun and relax in the knowledge that all your smartphone essentials are there when you need them”.
Samuel Gibbs – The Guardian
This Senior-Friendly Phone is the Future of Flip Phones
“The OS [of the Doro 7060 phone] is the real star here, and it’s why I’m so excited. KaiOS, which is a relative of Firefox OS, gives you a traditional feature phone menu, but also offers downloadable HTML5 apps.”
Sascha Segan – PCMag
KaiOS 2.5 to Run on Devices Using Spreadtrum and Qualcomm SoCs
“The tie-up with Airfind, Facebook, Google, and Twitter will enable KaiOS to offer various third-party apps on feature phones. KaiOS Technologies is set to bring Google Voice Assistant, Google Maps, and Google Search soon on Nokia 8110 4G. These apps are also expected to reach other KaiOS devices, including the Alcatel OneTouch Go Flip and Jio Phone that both are so far the only devices running the lightweight operating system. Similarly, the company is set to leverage its fresh collaboration with manufacturers such as Bullitt, Doro, HMD Global, and Micromax to expand the bouquet of KaiOS-based feature phones. Micromax already announced that it will bring KaiOS devices to Sri Lanka and UAE. The partnership with NXP, Spreadtrum, and Qualcomm, on the other hand, will help KaiOS to have compatible components to provide technologies such as embedded Secure Element (eSE), NFC, and 4G LTE.”
“As with other feature phone operating systems, KaiOS is designed to deliver a performance-efficient experience on mobile devices. Therefore, KaiOS Technologies has brought Spreadtrum and Qualcomm on board that will enable KaiOS 2.5 on their newest chipsets that work with 256MB and 512MB RAM options.”
Jagmeet Singh – NDTV
We also received some positive remarks from other journalists, social influencers, and analysts:
“KaiOS is quietly going to be one of the important stories at MWC. This allows feature phones like new Nokia 8110 (and Alcatel Go Flip) to get smarter. Supporting 4G (VolTE), Wi-Fi calling & more important for carriers.” Ben Wood, Analyst – CCS Insight
“I was impressed with KaiOS, a small team with a cracking idea with real potential to change a mobile segment lacking in innovation.” Andy Boxall – Digital Trends
“I absolutely want more KaiOS LTE devices like this Nokia 8110…” Sascha Segan – PCMag
“[The Nokia 8110] has 4G connectivity and is compatible with a few essential apps like Twitter, Facebook, Google Maps and email through an operating system called KaiOS. Bonus for Nokia fans—it comes with a new version of the iconic Snake game.” Sissi Cao, The Observer