Not having WhatsApp even on the Nokia 8110 4G 'banana phone' was a deal-breaker for many users. That feature gap has now been closed thanks to a collaboration between the makers of KaiOS, the OS that runs on the Nokia 8110, and Facebook-owned WhatsApp.
KaiOS Technologies has announced the availability of WhatsApp on its app store for several phones running KaiOS in the same "smart feature phone" category as the Nokia 8110. WhatsApp is available for devices with 512MB and 256MB RAM. The messaging app reportedly came to the Nokia 8110 in India a few months ago, but now Nokia 8110 owners anywhere can install the app.
KaiOS says the first phone to get WhatsApp was the JioPhone in India in September 2018. According to the company, WhatsApp is now available for the Nokia 8110 globally, the Cat B35 and Doro 7060 in Europe, the JioPhone and JioPhone 2 in India, the MTN Smart and Orange Sanza in Africa, and the Multilaser ZAPP and Positive P70s in Brazil.
"Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable and secure way," said Matt Idema, COO of WhatsApp.
KaiOS Technologies claims it has shipped 100 million devices to around 100 countries. Those numbers suggest it could succeed where others like Mozilla failed to make Firefox OS the third mobile operating system.
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The company has raised about $72 million in backing to date, including $22 million from Google and TCL Holdings in 2018. The latest funding, announced in June, was from Cathay Innovation and French telco Orange as part of its approach to boosting internet usage among Africa's mobile consumers.
While it's unlikely to come close to the dominance of iOS and Android, 100 million devices does give the company official bragging rights to the title of "third leading mobile operating system" and makes its goal of "connecting the next billion users" not entirely unrealistic.