How KaiOS Is Becoming the 3rd Major Mobile OS

This video was sponsored by Brilliant. You might have seen this phone before. It’s the famous Nokia Banana phone. But what you might not know is that this phone is running KaiOS, which is actually shaping up to become the third major mobile operating system in the world after iOS and Android. So in the 36th episode of the Story Behind
series, let me explain what exactly KaiOS is, and why Google has just invested
22 million dollars into a seeming competitor of its own Android. So KaiOS calls itself the Emerging OS, which
I think is a perfect description. It’s an OS that makes feature phones, or what
we used to call dumb phones, kind of smart. It adds 4G, WiFi and GPS capabilities, mobile payments through NFC an app store and a lot more. And where all the other budget smartphone
projects like Mozilla’s FireFoxOS, Samsung’s Tizen and Google’s Android One/Android
Go had lukewarm reception, KaiOS seems tobe a giant hit so far. It launched in 2017 with an obscure Alcatel
flip phone and was quickly picked up by HMD for the Nokia Banana phone, Reliance Industries,
a gigantic Indian conglomerate for the Jio Phone, which is a 4G phone that came to dominate
Indian feature phone sales in just one year, Doro, a Swedish phone for senior users and many more. The latest data I could find showed that KaiOS
has already overtaken iOS as the 2nd most popular mobile OS in India, globally already 40 million
phones have been sold running KaiOS and the company claims to be on track to hit the 100
million mark by the end of 2018. Even the KaiOS store seems like a runaway
success, as it has many of the most important apps like WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube
and even the Google Assistant. By any measure, KaiOS is growing exponentially. So to understand its success, we first have
to take a look at the OS itself. KaiOS is actually a modified version of FireFoxOS,
which was Mozilla’s own, fully functional modern smartphone OS built for touchscreen phones. FireFoxOS to phones is kind of whatChromeOS is to PCs. It has a Linux Kernel on top of which runs
a browser, in this case FireFox, that is made to look like an OS, and can obviously browse
the web, and not only open websites, but also web-apps that can pretend to be native apps. Mozilla abandoned the project in 2016, since
the adoption rate of FireFoxOS was quite slow, but Mozilla being Mozilla, obviously also
opensourced the whole OS, so after they abandoned it, KaiOS picked it up, modified the UI to
be better suited for feature phones with physical keyboards, stripped it down even further,
to the point where it can run on reeeeally low-end hardware, slapped a few first party
apps like a news reader and weather on the device, together with the KaiOS store for
3rd party apps and voila, KaiOS was born. And this approach has a few really significant benefits. First, it being browser-based means getting
apps on this platform is actually quite easy. KaiOS uses standard web technologies like HTML5,
CSS and JavaScript, and apparently there isn’t even a need for wrappers. Now, KaiOS has been quite strict about
who they let into the app store, because they want to make sure that only optimized apps get in there that have their excessive background data syncing and excessive animations turned off, understandable, but anyone who has a halfway decent mobile website, basically has a halfway decent KaiOS app ready as well. And Second, there are significant cost savings. Not only did the team not have to build an
OS from scratch, through which they saved a ton of money, they also designed KaiOS to
be able to save on component costs as well. Their phones don’t need a touchscreens, which,
according to them, are the most expensive components of the average smartphone, they
only require 256 MB of storage, and run not only on Qualcomm chips, but also on those
from Spreadtrum, a budget chipmaker from China. So KaiOS hardware doesn’t have to be, but
can be super cheap. This Nokia 8810 is the only phone with KaiOS
I could buy here in Germany for the demo, but price-wise it’s actually the worst example,
as it costs 79 Euros. That puts it pretty much into an entry level
smartphone category, I made a whole video explaining this phone, you can watch it right
here, but anyway, the better example, at least price-wise, is the Jio Phone from India. This 4G phone is given away to consumers basically
for free with Jio’s 4G plans, which seam ridiculously cheap. 1GB a month for the equivalent of $0.75,
or 42GB a month for the equivalent of $2.35. Which, uh, let’s just say makes me a little envious. And so the combination of being way more affordable
than budget smartphones and yet having way more advanced functionality than
feature phones means that a whole new group of people can suddenly get online for the first time. A very large group of people. Well, over 450 million feature phones were
sold in 2017, and after many years of declining sales, last year, the feature phone industry
started growing again, just as smartphone sales are flattening. Especially India and Africa have seen big
increases, so feature phones are a huge market that’s actually growing. Now, traditionally, mobile carriers have been pretty unhappy about people using feature phones. Because not only can they not sell expensive data packages to them every month, which is basically their whole business model, but, these phones usually also rely on old, outdated technologies like 2G and 3G. So these carriers have to maintain and
keep updating their old legacy networks, when in reality they would just much rather focus on 4G and maybe even 5G. But KaiOS can kind of help them with both
of those issues. They have 4G support, including voice over
LTE calling, so carriers don’t need to support 2G and 3G networks for KaiOS users, and carriers can finally charge feature phone users for mobile internet access, which they love to do so much. Now, KaiOS still points to research that suggests
their users in emerging markets won’t be able to pay more than 2.5 USD a month for the connection,
but hey, that’s still a lot better than what carriers had before. So that’s the business side of it, but one question
still remains. What on earth is Google doing here? And why have they invested $22 million into
KaiOS when it is pretty obviously a competitor to Google’s two consumer facing platforms,
Android and Chrome. Cause remember, this is not only a mobile
OS, it’s essentially also a Firefox browser. And why does Google develop apps like the
Google Assistant for what is still a very small platform? Well, I will have to speculate here, but I do
have a few ideas: So when faced with a competitor, Google can
have two different approaches. Approach one is to use its quasi monopoly
to try to kill the competitor before they become too successful, like it did with Windows Phone
or like it’s doing with Amazon’s platform right now. Google never brought their services to the
Windows Phone platform and actively fought companies who made third-party clients for them. They are now doing very similar things with the
Echo and FireTV platforms, where they are trying to keep YouTube off these devices with
all their might. The thinking is: people really want Google
services, and denying a platform quality access to them can be deadly for the platform. On the other hand, with platforms it doesn’t
want to or can’t kill, like iOS and KaiOS, Google does the opposite. It floods these platforms with Google services,
and in KaiOS even with a financial investment, to try to control as many user interactions
on them as possible. You know, if you can’t beat them, join them. Google can, simply put, buy its way into this
new mobile company. So even if in a couple of years it will become a major platform like I think it will, Google will be there to not only control it, but also profit off of it. Also, KaiOS has two exciting promises for
Google. First, a focus on the web. And sure, it’s currently based on FireFox,
but Google basically owns half the web anyway and KaiOS apps are essentially progressive
web apps, which Google wants to establish as the new web standard. If progressive web apps succeed on KaiOS,
they will be beneficial for both Android and Chrome as well. And second, KaiOS is a perfect place for the
Google Assistant. Yes, believe it or not, voice is a huge hit on KaiOS. Which kinda makes sense if you think about it. The number pad isn’t exactly a great input
method, plus feature phone users are often less comfortable with navigating complex visual
UIs and a disproportional amount of them are even illiterate. So voice is a big deal here. The JioPhone has a prominent voice assistant
button on it that launches their very own Jio Assistant, and that one alone has served
over 200 million voice commands already, so obviously Google wants to attack this market. Alright, before I wrap it up, there are a
few things I’m not so fond of when it comes to KaiOS. First of all, they took what is essentially open source code and turned it into a very closed, locked down ecosystem, which is not my favourite thing ever. Second, I am not sure I like Google becoming
a bigger monopoly by gobbling up smaller platforms that could challenge it in some way, not a big fan of that. And third, this operating system, at least on this hardware, if you try to use heavy, unoptimized websites like, I don’t know, the Verge for example, is basically unusable. But other than that, pretty cool project! I think Google investing into KaiOS is a super smart move. If played well, it means that hundreds of
millions of people who experience the internet for the first time will do so using Google services. I’m actually surprised that Facebook or Microsoft,
who have always wanted to have their own mobile OS didn’t jump on the opportunity in quite
the same way, but hey, Google did, and while I’m personally not personally super happy
about their monopoly growing ever bigger, I do have to admit that they were pretty damn
smart for doing it. Now, Google being smart about mobile operating
systems shouldn’t really come as a surprise as they actively deal with them every day,
and after all, it’s practice that makes perfect. If you were to get really smart about something,
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out as well!

100 thoughts on “How KaiOS Is Becoming the 3rd Major Mobile OS

  1. I think I predicted this pretty well in a previous video I made over a year ago: . I said that in order for a new mobile OS to emerge, it can't replicate what Android and iOS does, it has to do something completely different. It has to use a different software layer (I predicted the web), and a different form factor (I didn't predict the feature phone form factor). Either way, the older video makes for a good follow-up!

  2. KaiOS has also raised $50 million from from Cathay Innovation and previous investors Google and TCL Holdings, according to a report in TechCrunch. KaiOS is present on over 100 million devices in 100 countries.
    This OS is now the third most used operating system in the world.

  3. No offence, KaiOS looks like crap…. it looks like VERY outdated and probably would only work for low-spec phones. (10year olds phones)

  4. A device that allows in any way social media or Google in it is no better than any other. This is just Google taking over the feature phone market of intrusive data collection

  5. So what's the point of this "new" OS if Google invest in it, it's still be a second Google OS…

  6. it's not gonna be popular in Cantonese speaking regions that's for sure, because "Kai" is slang for "retard"

  7. It's like when you think that you have more options other than Coke and Pepsi, but turns out the other option is also owned by Coca Cola Company.

  8. Ya, trade a cheap data plan for getting to burn your dead family members in the same river you do laundry in… #winning!

  9. KaiOS is like the netbook… it will have a limited run for cost purposes — Then it will stop being relevant as older smart phones become cheaper.. Jesus Christ….

  10. Will probably get Google software s well as it has just sunk a large sum into it but will take some time to catch up in IOS and probably never will as Google wont want to give away its AI. that has some prestige.

  11. Couldn't Mcrosoft and Apple both match Googles fund into this company. And have EQUAL influence on which direction the company will go. Google only went in like $22m. That is like a penny to Google. Microsoft could go in $1b and be the alpha.

  12. Today I buy Jio phone and kaios is awesome but it's not so fast…

    I am from India, jio phones for old generation people who can't use touch phone like grand father etc …

  13. This will be another spy phone when google gets its hands on it. Mark my words! KaiOS will be even harder for the user to get into to stop the spying behind your back. >>>> READ FOR THE ACTUAL FACTS……Check out the Librem 5 phone by Purism. I have no affiliation with that company. This post is to get accurate information to the masses. Let me explain. Every phone on the market now has the same basic hardware design. The communications circuitry (Cellular, Wifi and Bluetooth) is on the same board as the main processor. That means no matter what privacy settings or privacy apps you use will stop the spying. Nothing will work because the communication circuitry can simply skim any data it wants from the main processor. That includes any and all data the travels through the processor. That means anything that you do on your phone can be seen by all these privacy snoopers. There is nothing that you can do to stop it. Its in the design at the hardware level. The Librem 5 is a phone that has been totally redesigned. The communications circuitry is on a separate board from the main processor. This means the communication circuitry can't skim data from you whenever it wants to. There are going to be actual hardware kill switches for Cellular, Bluetooth, Wifi, camera and microphone. This means that when you turn any of these off they can never be turned back on behind your back. The OS will be based on Debian Linux. Android is based on Linux which was based on Unix and Apple is based on FreeBSD which was based on Unix. These are both rock solid operating systems when it come to dependability. The problem with any Android, Apple or KaiOS device is the spying capability is built into the operating system coupled with the hardware design. This new phone (Librem 5) will not be hardware or software capable of spying on you unless you actually install an application on your phone to spy on you. It is going to have a user replacable battery, headphone jack and lifetime updates. This will be the end of needing a new phone every year or two. The Librem 5 is suppose to be available sometime this year. I know I'm buying one because I have had it with companies and government in my personal life. I hope this information helps privacy concerned people. 😉 Just remember…… Google investing in KAiOS is a super smart move for google but a horrible move for the Customers Privacy> Look what Google turned Android into. A spying devices in everyone's hand all day! Every day!

  14. Nothing against Kai OS, but that's easy to say when there is ONLY 2 relevant mobile OSes to begin with. No other OSes besides Android & (up for debate)IOS have enough market share/users to matter. Personally I would pick Sailfish next to Android. It just has a very poor app support & the android app emulation isn't impressive either.

  15. What an excellent video. Was able to understand word by word.. It seemed what he spoke was, what i wanted to hear

  16. Excellent video and content as always, but one small side note… Hitler and Stalin were deemed "smart" by many historians. Quit legitimizing what Google is doing by calling them "smart". The founding father of modern capitalism Adam Smith never intended for capitalism to be immoral or unethical which is what many behemoth corporations, investment groups and their indentured politicians have become. They are ruining a good thing (trade, commerce, i.e. capitalism), and this is what fuels the fires of ushering in Venezuela type socialism in westernized nations because of this type of "legal" corruption.

  17. Watched this video when it came out, and yesterday I finally bought my Nokia 8110 4G.
    Reasons to consider it: a cheap (but kinda fancy) vacation phone, replacement phone while yours is in repair.
    It has WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter currently. What more do you need while on vacation and afraid your main phone will break or be stolen? Also, it has a ridiculous 21-day battery life on standby. Sometimes, charging on vacation is not an option.
    And when your iPhone has a problem and you wait for it to be fixed, you can live good with it.

  18. gpdr linked gpdr 2 linked

  19. I have the Alcatel GoFLip, and I honestly love it! Its a great phone for someone like me who doesen't want a full fledged smartpone.

  20. Some exciting additions to the KaiOS ecosystem 👉 Nokia 2720 & Nokia Rugged 800 today (06 Sept '19). If they get only a few of my preferred apps onto KaiOS, I'll gladly get rid of my smartphone for these smaller devices. KaiOS is on my radar now 😊

  21. Just replaced a Consumer Cellular Doro KaiOS flip phone. The worst phone I've experienced since Blackberry. Does NOT bode well for KaiOS. First encounter. Last encounter.

  22. "Google investing 22 millions dollars!"… they just recently bought yahoo building (to spit on them) from 1 billion. And at google location houses now skyrocket to 1.500.000+ USD.
    So, all of that "google invested!" it just nuts, something like "for fun".

  23. So, I have my app on Apple appstore & Google play store. Is it worth it for me to be on KaiStore? Will it help me grow users and merchants alike? What countries or phones use Kai?

  24. I have a KaiOS-powered phone and I like two things about it: I can tether it to my laptop (no more need for a modem) and its battery lasts for eternity (no more need for bulky power banks).
    One thing I hate about it? The WhatsApp version on it doesn't support webWhatApp so that I can use it on my PC. I don't know why they didn't include this feature…bcs the phone does have a camera to scan the bloody QR code!
    We need more options for such phones. MTN, do you hear me?

  25. Another os owned by Google fuck that I want something disconnected from Google is it possible to easily make your own os and I know no apps will work with it but I specifically want it for ethical hacking say like a Linux os for phones

  26. I own a KaiOS flip-phone (an Alcatel QuickFlip), and this particular model (here Stateside) has NO APP STORE AT ALL! I can't even play ANY HTML5 games with it, either! All I can do with it is make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and access VERY BASIC websites via-Wi-Fi (NOT 4G LTE, for "cost-cutting" reasons), and I'm perfectly HAPPY with it, though I wish it DID include the KaiOS App Store, to make it even more fun to use my device, BUT…as they ALWAYS say…"LESS IS MORE"!

  27. I feel you are mistaken a lot on this video. Microsoft used unlicensed connect to YouTube and wouldn't change it. They were blocked. Microsoft never wanted to abide by their rules. Amazon blocks Google products on their devices and on Amazon websites, they have done so till this year. So Google blocks them in retaliation. Google isn't trying to stop them, Google wants their market, but if they can't get it they will block it. Their business model is user data, if it's stopped from giving it to them, they stop you from using their service.

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