Google Throws its Lot in with the Linux-based KaiOS Project to Focus on Emerging Markets

While Google has a tendency to support a number of sometimes unusual projects, not many people consider it a major startup investor. The search engine giant is throwing it’s weight behind KaiOS, however, and reports have come out that suggest the company has invested some $22 million into the lightweight operating system.

Like Google’s own Android product, KaiOS is based on open-source Linux kernel code. It’s far lighter, however, which makes it attractive for use in emerging markets and on lower-end mobile devices. Developers that operate in parts of the world where semiconductors are prohibitively expensive might consider this good news as it drastically reduces hardware requirements for mobile software.

Google has claimed that their goal in recent months has been to put their services first. They’ve wanted to promote search and map features in emerging markets, and an investment in KaiOS seems like a good one for this reason.

It also seems to suggest that they’re not tethering themselves to the Android platform. KaiOS grew out of Mozilla’s Firefox OS project, which was another fork of the Linux codebase.

At one point, it would have been unthinkable to see Google buying into something like this. Some might no longer see it as a competitor, however, both because it’s designed to run on lower specification devices than Android is and because it helps to promote Google’s web services.

KaiOS has promised to work on integrating Google’s search engine and maps app into devices running their operating system. They’ll also work to include its voice assistant technology as well as native support for YouTube.

Developers announced earlier this year that Google apps would get deployed on some Nokia phones powered by KaiOS. The operating system currently receives hardware support from several manufacturers. These include Micromax and Alcatel as well as Nokia.

At the same time, the company still seems to be working on Fuchsia. Google announced that operating system, which isn’t based on the Linux kernel, back in 2016. They’ve claimed that they’re still throwing their weight behind that project, and they’ve recently joined the board of the Linux Foundation itself.

As a result, Google may find itself involved with several different OS products at the same time in the coming months.

Kamil Anwar
Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.