WhatsApp is now available on feature phones with KaiOS
The year of 2018 saw a massive 252% growth in the demand for smart features phones in India even as the Indian market’s appetite for smartphones grew only ~10%. Research shows that the category of feature phones with 3G or 4G connectivity is expected to sustain a similar rate of growth and create opportunities worth $28 billion in the next three years and this phenomenon is not just limited to India but all KaiOS, the operating system specifically designed to bridge the gap between users with smartphones and feature phones, has gained support for a myriad of Google apps. Now WhatsApp, which is the world’s largest messenger, is now joining the league.
In a blog post, KaiOS Technologies recently announced that WhatsApp will now be available on KaiStore. The version has been optimized for smart feature phones with limited processing capabilities, including those with as low as 256MB RAM. By the end of this quarter, WhatsApp should come pre-installed with all smart feature phones running on KaiOS. KaiOS already supports Facebook and Twitter, as well as Google apps such as Google Assistant, YouTube, Google Search, and Maps.
Notably, WhatsApp has already been available on select KaiOS devices since November last year. The early recipients include the JioPhone and the JioPhone 2 in India. But now, WhatsApp will be available for KaiOS devices in other regions such as Africa, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, Latin America, etc. Some of the other devices to be benefited with this update includes the feature phones under the Nokia brand, including the Nokia 3310 4G as well as the Nokia 8110 4G.
Currently, KaiOS-powered devices only occupy 16% of the market of feature phones but this share is expected to rise to 50% and India is likely to be the frontrunner of this growth. With more than a billion users (counting each new connection as a separate user), only 35-40% are smartphone users while the remaining are still relying on feature phones. Smart feature phones have a less steep learning curve compared for first-time phone users or traditional feature phone users. This is why the category can be a driver in the growth of internet userbase as well as help telecom operators earn more revenue by bundling data packages along with voice services.