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KaiOS gets $50m in funding, hits 100m phones shipped

The latest round of funding for the feature-phone platform came via Cathay Innovation, Google, and TCL.

Published onMay 23, 2019

Google Assistant on a KaiOS phone.

KaiOS has quickly become one of the most popular mobile platforms in the world, bringing smartphone-style features to cheap feature phones. The platform previously received a $22 million cash injection from Google last year, and it’s now received a $50 million round of funding.

The funding round, led by Cathay Innovation, includes Google and TCL as well, according to an emailed press statement. So what will the team do with its cash injection?

“With the Series B funding, Kai plans to expand into new markets, invest in product portfolio research and development, and expand its ecosystem by accelerating the growth of the KaiOS developer community; to further bridge the digital divide,” KaiOS Technologies explained in the statement.

Google is bringing more than just money to KaiOS though, as it’s also delivered Youtube, Google Assistant, and Google Maps. The company also announced earlier this year that it would be bringing Voice Typing to the platform.

WhatsApp on KaiOS: What you're getting, what's missing
WhatsApp on KaiOS.

The platform-holder also revealed that its partners have shipped over 100 million KaiOS devices to date. That represents a substantial leap over its reported 85 million shipped figure back at MWC in February.

KaiOS phones recently arrived on the African continent too, thanks to devices like the MTN Smart S and Orange Sanza. We spent a week with the former device, finding it to have plenty of positives, but a very weak spec sheet too.

“In markets where $10 extra can mean the difference between eating for the week and not, a $17 phone with WhatsApp and other smart features might be a game-changer. As woefully compromised as it is in terms of specs, there’s really nothing like it in many markets,” we wrote in our KaiOS phone review.

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