I’ve got a question: how expensive is your current smartphone?
Some people will say $600, you might have managed to get one for $400 some people might even say $100 but what almost nobody would have said is $20? And that is where kaiOs and puffin OS come in two completely new platforms that are about to try and change mobile phones forever.
I’m going to answer the three big questions:
- How KaiOS has created completely new category of devices number?
- The tricks that KaiOS uses to be able to work seamlessly even on low-end phones and
- How KaiOS is catching up with Android now?
You probably already know we can roughly sort mobile phones into three categories: you’ve got cell phones that can just make calls or send texts feature phones based on Java or equivalent and then smartphones that might run Android or iOS there are three billion people in the world who have no access at all to the Internet they might have a cell phone or feature phone and be able to call and text but there’s no way they could fork out $100 for an Android phone but KaiOS is bridging that gap rapidly and I’ve actually managed to get hold of one of these devices right here so let me show you how okay so this is the Nokia 8810.
Inside the box you’ve got the phone on top but also a pair of pretty cheap looking earphones you’ve got a 1500 milliampere (mA) battery and also a micro USB charger. So the phone itself and when you pick this thing up and start to use it some things become very apparent very quickly. It is super comfortable and light and I like the fact that you can turn the screen on and off with the sliding mechanism. The plus is it has 4G and that is just the start you’ve got Google Maps which is a little finicky here compared to on a large touchscreen but everything works I can sit down and plot a route from Nottingham to London and get step-by-step instructions on how to get there which think about it for someone who’s never had a smartphone and who’s just spent 20 to 30 dollars on something like this, is incredible. It’s got a YouTube app which is pretty much the mobile website but videos load without issues and the actual speed is better than you’d expect and maybe the most important addition with KaiOS is Google Assistant. It does pretty much always direct you to the browser but that’s enough. It’s enough for you to learn more about something that you’re interested in and it’s an offer it to solve math problems for you it’s not as jazzy as its Android counterpart but you’d be surprised how well it keeps up in terms of speed plus one of the biggest ways that KaiOS devices have managed to save costs is by opting out of using a touchscreen and whilst the caveat is that is potentially fiddly typing on one of those numerical keypads Google Assistant pretty much soul to the problem say you’re about to type a message to someone instead you can just hold the middle button and dictate it and because that computing is actually being done by Google’s text to speak engine and not some built-in proprietary one it is just as fast as if you were to do it on the galaxy s 10 plus KaiOS generally is superfast because it’s built with hardware limitations in mind performance is one of the only priorities.
Downloading apps takes 2 seconds and booting them up something similar. If you think about it, it’s really impressive that KaiOS was able to build a proper ecosystem like this especially when more established players like Samsung like Microsoft and Blackberry have all failed to get their own platforms off the ground.
If you think about a new platform like Kai OS really faces many challenges, one it has to work with a very little processing power because of course it is built for cheap devices with very cheap components and two it needs an app ecosystem but of course in 2019 it is very difficult to convince app developers of all sorts to port their apps over to a new platform as Windows Phone, blackberry and many others have proven. So instead of having its own in native app platform kai OS runs web apps which most app developers already have but kaiOS only allows the most optimized ones into its App Store so those will be the apps that actually offload most of the heavy duty processing tasks to cloud servers instead of running them on the devices themselves so for example Google Maps planning routes on a web server or Google assistant doing natural language processing on the web server for example with 4G connections becoming reliable and cheap even in developing countries KaiOS is betting on the fact that even cheap devices can finally start taking advantage of the cloud infrastructure so with this really smart software strategy
KaiOS is making feature phones really intelligent but you might still be wondering how this relatively simple operating system is starting to catch up with Android so back to you on. You might remember an OS called Firefox OS, a completely new operating system built by Mozilla for smartphones tablets and even TVs. kaiOS is actually using DNA from Firefox when a project was discontinued but there’s a specific reason why this is taking off when that failed.
A whole bunch of alternative os’s Samsung’s bada, Google’s future and Huwaei’s hongmen and whenever someone is asked the question: can this thing become the next main smartphone OS? the answer is always maybe but probably not every single smartphone OS by its very definition is going to be compared to Android and iOS to competitors that are seemingly so far ahead that it’s almost impossible for a third party to come in and compete but KaiOS isn’t pitching itself as a smartphone operating system even though they have got potential to steal market share from Android as there will be some people who’ll be choosing between the two because KaiOS is hitting a price point where Android couldn’t possibly get to. It doesn’t actually need to be as good because they’ve created this entirely new category of semi smartphones at the price of frankly a dumb phone. There’s very little competition here and if the theory wasn’t enough the numbers back it up we first started seeing iOS in 2017 and now it is on over a hundred million phones if you think about that figure for a second in terms of percentage growth that is far beyond what Android is and ever worse the second thing in favor of KaiOS is that updates are coming in first and the kind of updates we’re talking about they’re much more dramatic changes than just adjusting how icons look or introducing a dark note. The phone has already picked up support for Facebook and Twitter and just recently what’s app too – I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of time before we start getting Instagram, uber, Spotify and with this you can start to see that kayo s is not just another piece of software it is a potential lifestyle accelerator especially in developing countries this thing would be giving people access to a completely new way of living and that brings me on to the third thing that is sustainability kai OS is different it has an app store just like all those other operating systems that have failed in the past but unlike them it already has the user base to support it by pitching itself to this almost uncontested market kai o s has managed to rack up over a hundred million users and that itself is the biggest hurdle the current quantity of apps is pretty slim but because they have that user base the incentive for developers to now come on board and make more stuff is already pretty strong and that’s all cemented by a fairly intuitive kai ad system that can monetize their apps for them so you’ve got loads of users who are hungry for content and loads of developers who are ready to start making
It all the ingredients are here for a really bright future but one thing I would say is that the future of an operating system like this is a little uncertain because generally people are getting wealthier you would think that Kai OS has really strong a short term appeal whilst money is short but then at the same time in the long term when incomes become substantial enough that people would rather have the full smartphone experience with something like Android as opposed to the cutback version here. so the only way I see Kai OS surviving long term is by slowly branching out to more premium devices and by starting to offer more and more of a comparable experience to Android and iOS so that in itself could be pretty exciting the last thing to bear in mind about this is that using one of these phones actually has some significant advantages over using all of these phones the Nokia 8810 that I’ve got here is lighter it’s smaller and it can last just as long if not longer than way s10 and I could also see a situation where even someone who already owns an Android might prefer to take a KaiOs phone to a music festival or to a holiday it’s low cost means you’re not too worried about losing it and the fact that it’s powerful enough to stay fully connected also being so powerful and so capable that it’s distracting might actually strike the perfect balance for some people kaiOS could also potentially find a market as the secondary phone for someone who already owns a proper smartphone I’ll have to see anyways.