KaiOS Technologies, which makes an operating system for smart feature phones, has raised $50 million to further its goal of making such phones more powerful and affordable.
The round was led by Cathay Innovation and included money from such previous investors as Google and TCL Holdings. Google led a $22 million round of funding for KaiOS last year.
The Hong Kong company’s Linux-based KaiOS is designed to bring smartphone-like services to feature phones. The broader goal is to create a more powerful mobile OS that brings the internet to a far greater number of users in developing markets.
“Our mission is to open up new possibilities for individuals, organizations, and society by bringing mobile connectivity to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets, as well as providing those in established markets with an alternative to smartphones,” said KaiOS CEO Sebastien Codeville in a statement. “This series B round allows us to accelerate these efforts and increase the impact we can make in societies around the world, one phone at a time.”
The company says KaiOS now runs on more than 100 million devices across 100 countries. The OS enables services like WhatsApp to be accessible on low-cost devices such as the JioPhone, an advanced 4G feature phone from Indian mobile network operator Jio.
KaiOS plans to use the latest funding to push into new markets, as well as investing in product development and research. It also plans to expand efforts to bring more developers into its ecosystem.