A Short History of KaiOS

KaiOS seemingly came out of nowhere. A few months ago, we didn’t even have a website. Now our operating system is running on over 30 million phones in India and North America. By the end of 2018, we plan to offer KaiOS in more than 100 countries across the globe.

This didn’t happen overnight. Here’s the real story about our name, history with Firefox, and purpose.

KaiOS is not Firefox OS. Our platform is based on the original Mozilla project. We even have people from the original Mozilla team in our engineering and UX departments. But KaiOS has been developed into something much more robust and expanded than the original Firefox OS. Think of us as distant cousins, not siblings nor children.

That brings us to the name. When the current stakeholders took over the project from Mozilla, we wanted something that would reflect our ambition to be accessible and open to all members of society. We also wanted a name that would work in both Western and Asian languages.

While it could be mistaken for a person’s name, “Kai” originates from the Chinese word for open: 开 (kāi). The meaning fits and the sound is pronounceable in almost every tongue.  Which brings us to the most important part: why does Kai exist?

We believe the world doesn’t need another expensive smartphone. There are still vast groups of people locked out of the digital revolution. In emerging markets, over three billion (!) people don’t have basic internet access. In mature markets, close to 20 percent of mobile users still use basic phones because they can’t or don’t want to use a smartphone. For all these people, not being connected means missed opportunities in education, health, communication, entertainment, and business.

Kai exists to unlock these opportunities. Together with our partners, we’re focused on creating products that make that happen. In 2017, we launched phones with Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T in North America, and with Jio in India. This is just the beginning. Many other countries and partners will join us on this mission in the months ahead.

We believe genius, happiness, and wealth are waiting to blossom in new places. All that’s needed is access to the digital revolution, just like it has sparked these things in other parts of the world. We believe KaiOS can play a small part in making this happen, which is why our team of close to 200 people comes to work every day in our offices around the world.

Kai, the emerging OS.


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