Google reveals major investment in feature phones

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There's roughly 500 million new feature phones that were shipped last year, mostly in emerging markets. While some see it as strange, given the omnipresence of smartphones, others, like Google, see it as an investment opportunity.

News broke out that the company behind the Android operating system and the Pixel smartphone line is investing $22 million into a feature phone operating system called KaiOS.

KaiOS was built by an American company of the same name, which looks to bring the advantages of smartphones to feature phones. Now, Google will bring its tools to the OS that is, similarly to Android, built on Linux.

It was reported that KaiOS will thus get features like Google Maps, YouTube, Google Search, as well as the voice assistant.

“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,” said KaiOS CEO Sebastien Codeville in a statement.

At the moment, KaiOS powers some 40 million feature phones on the market. Its shipments, according to Counterpoint, have risen 11,400 per cent, compared to the same period last year.

“We’re excited to work with Google to deliver its services on more mobile devices,” said Codeville. “Having an intelligent voice assistant on an affordable mobile phone is truly revolutionary as it helps overcome some of the limitations a keypad brings.”

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