Monday, August 8, 2022
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Home Mobile KaiOS-powered Smart Feature Phone Gets WhatsApp in Latest Africa Push

KaiOS-powered Smart Feature Phone Gets WhatsApp in Latest Africa Push

by Sam Wakoba
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KaiOS Technologies maker of KaiOS, today announced it has added WhatsApp to its KaiStore in a move to connect the world, in partnership with Facebook, the social media giant which owns WhatsApp.

KaiOS said its users can download WhatsApp from the KaiStore to either their 512MB and 256MB RAM devices. Big news is that by Q3 2019, most smart feature phones powered by KaiOS will have WhatsApp preinstalled upon shipment.

“KaiOS has been a critical partner in helping us bring private messaging to smart feature phones around the world. Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable and secure way,” said Matt Idema, COO of WhatsApp

KaiOS is doing the right thing. By adding WhatsApp to its content, the farm is dangling its device to over 1.5 billion people worldwide who use WhatsApp.

The low-cost smart feature phones will now enable users to make calls, text, and WhatsApp their friends and family across the world. Last year September, KaiOS partnered with Jio to launch KaiOS-JioPhone in India, a ripe market for its low-cost phone.

Five months ago, KaiOS and Orange launched the $20 Sanza in 16 countries in Africa and the Middle-East. The phone was launched in Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Jordan, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Sierra Leone and Tunisia, a majority of Orange markets.

The mobile network operator added that beginning April 2019, its customers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire will have access to a new category of smart feature phones powered by KaiOS, the operating system from KaiOS Technologies as Sanza will be commercialised with a dedicated offer (voice/text/data) starting around $US 20, that will help customers to optimise their budget.

This new phone was to users access to applications such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google Search, and Google Maps, as well as Orange Money, the flagship mobile-based money transfer and financial services offer. With today’s launch of WhatsApp, KaiOS is fulfilling its promise of putting Africans on the map, and introducing them to the digital economy.

According to a report by McKinsey, by 2025, 12 distinctive and massive ecosystems will emerge around fundamental human and organizational needs and will account for $60 trillion in revenues by 2025, or roughly 30 percent of all global revenues. The ecosystems include insurance, mobility, housing, health, wealth protection, and B2B services. Without smartphones, Africa’s productive population will be left out. KaiOS, therefore is better placed at helping the continents unemployed and poor to the global internet ecosystem.

For a little history, KaiOS was forked from Firefox OS source code which was made public as B2G (Boot to Gecko), an open-source, community-driven product. KaiOS Technologies, the company behing KaiOS is based in San Diego, California (USA). The firm released its first version in 2017 bringing “dumb” phones to the global internet ecosystem in a move to “to help close the digital divide by bringing mobile connectivity to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets”.

KaiOS Technologies has raised funding from tech giants like Google and telecom companies like India’s Reliance Jio, among others to show how important connectivity is to everyone.

“We’re thrilled to bring WhatsApp to the KaiOS platform and extend such an important means of communication to a brand new demographic,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “We strive to make the internet and digital services accessible for everyone and offering WhatsApp on affordable smart feature phones is a giant leap towards this goal. We can’t wait to see the next billion users connect in meaningful ways with their loved ones, communities, and others across the globe.”

KaiOS-powered smart feature phones are a new category of mobile devices that combine the affordability of a feature phone with the essential features of a smartphone. They meet a growing demand for affordable devices from people living across Africa – and other emerging markets – who are not currently online.

Apart from WhatsApp, KaiOS-powered devices have popular apps such as the Google Assistant, YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps and Twitter. Apps in the KaiStore are customized to minimize data usage and maximize user experience for smart feature phone users. KaiOS currently powers more than 100 million devices shipped worldwide, in over 100 countries. 

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