JioPhone Next: Google, Reliance Jio Eye the 'Next 500 Million' Smartphone Users

Reliance Industries (RIL) held its 44th annual general meeting (AGM) on June 24, 2021, where Chairman Mukesh Ambani updated the shareholders and media on the company’s progress and its future plans. RIL’s telecom arm Reliance Jio has already disrupted the sector by democratizing 4G voice and data offerings, which are the cheapest across the globe. The launch of JioPhone in 2017 at an “effectively free” price proved successful in helping unconnected users experience internet for the first time. After selling over 110 million JioPhones, Jio has now announced the JioPhone Next 4G smartphone.

The JioPhone Next is a result of the strategic partnership between Google and Reliance Jio that was announced at the 43rd AGM last year. Google has invested $4.5 billion for a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms. The partnership aims to democratize smartphones to offer the most affordable Android smartphone with optimized OS and Jio experiences.

counterpoint reliance jiophone next side
Source: Reliance Jio

JioPhone Next Designed for the Next Half Billion

While Jio did not reveal the specifications and pricing of the JioPhone Next, it did reveal that the smartphone will be available starting September 10. Jio also revealed that the smartphone runs on an optimized version of Android, with support for latest Android software and security updates. Ambani also highlighted that besides being ultra-affordable, the phone will include some cutting-edge features, such as:

  • A voice assistant to check the latest weather updates, prepaid balance on My Jio, and cricket scores. It will also play music on JioSaavn.
  • Translation of on-screen text into the user’s language and read-aloud features across the OS – web pages, apps, messages, and more.
  • Smart camera with HDR and low-light night modes, and built-in Snapchat lens filters for selfies.
  • Google Play Store for accessing apps and games, along with Google Play Protect built in for security.

counterpoint jiophone next feaures

The cheapest Android smartphone, Itel A23, sold by Reliance Jio is priced at INR 3,799 (around $51). If Jio and Google plan to subsidize the JioPhone Next, it could be available for well under $50, making it a killer deal. But we will have to wait till Jio officially announces the pricing in the next few months.

Opportunity for Reliance Jio’s Ultra-affordable 4G Smartphone

Reliance Jio now has over 425 million subscribers and is the first telecom operator from a country outside China to achieve this milestone. Jio looks to accelerate its growth by adding millions of more users in coming years, considering India is still one of the most under-penetrated smartphone markets in the world.

India’s population stands close to 1.39 billion, which has around 850 million unique mobile phone users at 61% mobile phone penetration. This leaves around 540 million of unconnected users who do not own a mobile phone yet. This unconnected segment mainly includes children, elderly people, and the ones below the poverty line.

According to our estimates, out of the 850 million unique mobile phone users, nearly 530 million are smartphone users, whereas roughly 320 million are feature phone users. With JioPhone Next, Reliance Jio is staring at a potential 520 million users. These include around 150 million unconnected, 50 million second hand/older used smartphone users due for upgrade and the 320 million feature phone users (including 4G Jio Phone smart feature phone users).

The 60-65 million active 4G Jio Phone (smart feature phone) users are probably the lowest hanging opportunity for Jio to upgrade them to Jio Next and boost ARPU and services usage. Simultaneously,  the 2G feature phone users from Airtel and Vodafone Idea will be an important segment to target aggressively with this new ultra-affordable smartphone from Jio.

Counterpoint-Research-Jio-Phone-Next-Potential-Opportunity-500-Million-Users-TAM-June-2021.gifJio Needs to Broaden Value Proposition for Jio Phone Next

In the new normal of work and learn from home, a smartphone holds more importance in a mobile-first country like India. Reliance Jio will look to first attract millions of feature phone users to its 4G network via the JioPhone Next and then some portion of the next half a billion population which is yet to buy its first mobile phone. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have disproportionately impacted the livelihood of people at the bottom of the pyramid and Jio will need to present a very attractive value proposition to help these potential 4G smartphone users “cross the chasm”.

When Jio introduced the JioPhone in 2017, it was priced at INR 1,500, roughly $20. This acted more as a refundable security deposit, where after completing three years of usage, users could return the JioPhone and get a refund of INR 1,500. Considering this three-year contract expiry is nearing for most users, offering attractive upgrade deals would be a good way to ensure users remain “locked in” the Reliance Jio network and ecosystem.

Further, we could expect a “direct subsidy” as well as a “reverse subsidy” from Google and Jio respectively to make the device more affordable and price points closer to the earlier Jio Phone. EMIs, buybacks and cashback offers should also help broaden the value proposition.

Overall, Google and Jio’s partnership for JioPhone Next should help both companies to reach more users. For Google, it is a way to attract millions of users to the Android ecosystem and boost its existing global base of 3.1 billion users closer to 4 billion users in the near- to mid-term. But the real test will be to see the kind of Android experience this smartphone can offer at much lower price points. Google had earlier failed with its Android Go and Android One programs but with Jio it could be different as the suite of services and optimization actually is designed to bridge the digital divide. If this works, the next goal would be to scale this offering across other under-penetrated emerging markets.

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Global Smart Feature Phone Market Reaches Pre-pandemic Level; New launches and Innovation Drive Growth

Driven by the momentum generated by the reopening of markets and new product launches and partnerships by operators in Africa and Latin America, the global smart feature phone shipments grew 26% in Q4 2020 to reach the pre-pandemic level, according to Counterpoint’s Smart Feature Phone Tracker. The market had experienced a dip in Q2 2020 followed by a resurgence in Q3 which laid the foundation for the growth in Q4 2020.

The market was also helped by a renewed focus of India’s Reliance Jio after the dip in Q2 2020. As a result, the Indian market led the shipments with a 63% share of the global market in Q4 2020. Europe and the Middle East and Africa (MEA) also showed encouraging signs with positive quarterly growth of 28% and 398% respectively.

Counterpoint Research Global Smart Feature Phone Shipments Quarterly Growth, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic severely hit the market in Q2 2020. Lockdowns, closure of stores, and disruptions in the supply chain led to a 35% decline in shipments. Cutting down of non-essential expenses by target consumers also disrupted the market. Only the North American region helped sustain the market, thanks to the government stimulus.

The disruptions in Q2 2020 also meant new launches were no longer possible. With the lifting of restrictions, new launches and partnerships, and expansion into new markets started again, helping the shipments increase by 30% in Q3 2020.

The momentum of Q3 continued into Q4. We also observed innovations in product and GTM for smart feature phones, which ultimately pushed the market in reaching pre-pandemic levels. In Bangladesh, we saw the world’s first smart feature phone with a built-in infrared thermometer. In another example of success from South Asia, the world’s cheapest smart feature phone, Jazz Digit, saw successful trials for financing options. This later encouraged Jazz to add two new SKUs to its smart feature phone portfolio.

Conclusion and Outlook

The smart feature phone fills a very large and important gap in the digital ecosystem. Its target consumers cannot afford a smartphone or do not want to use a smartphone. A smart feature phone solves both these problems by offering basic connectivity features like 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi packaged in an easy-to-use form factor and at a price slightly higher than a feature phone.

The pandemic has made digital communication more important and has accelerated trends such as work-from-home and digital education. In such a scenario, the role of the smart feature phone becomes very important, especially for those who cannot afford a smartphone. For the operators, it helps in moving customers from 2G to 3G/4G and increasing their ARPUs.

The smart feature phone market is now seeing second-generation products. We are also witnessing a flurry of new launches, product innovations, and new go-to-market approaches, all of which can lead to an increase in smart feature phone shipments. New launches in Africa and Latin America, the launch of the world’s first IR thermometer-equipped phone in Bangladesh, and device financing in Pakistan are all pointers to the direction the smart feature phone industry is going.

We expect the smart feature phone market to increase by 10% YoY in 2021, banking on innovations in the industry and a rebound from the pandemic-hit year.

Podcast: SoC Players Democratizing 4G & 5G Mobile & IoT Experiences

We are living in an interesting time where 5G is finally making inroads in the mature markets like the US, the UK, China, and South Korea, among others. But more interestingly, while these markets are transitioning from 4G to 5G, a lot of emerging markets are stuck on 2G. Even markets like India, which is now the second-biggest smartphone market in the world, has 4G connectivity, but 2G and 3G feature phones are still relevant.

The challenge for telecom operators here is to convince these 2G/3G feature phone users to upgrade to a 4G enabled smartphone. But given the budget constrains of these users, operators and handset vendors need to develop low-cost devices that connect the unconnected to the internet. It also opens up opportunities to bring smart feature phones that support apps like WhatsApp, YouTube, digital payments like mPesa, and more.

In the latest episode, “The Counterpoint Podcast” host Maurice Klaehne and associate director Tarun Pathak discuss the feature phone market which has a sizeable chunk of share. The discussion focuses on different topics like opportunities for both handset vendors and network operators. Even a popular feature phone chipset maker like Unisoc can have a bigger role from the 5G NR IoT perspective.

Detailed whitepaper highlighting Cellular Technology Transitions and Potential for SoC Players can be found here.

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Connecting the Next Billion: Challenges and Initiatives

Internet connectivity is emerging as one of the fundamental pillars of societal well-being. As part of the sustainable development goals, the United Nations aims, “to significantly increase access to information and communications technology”, and will strive, “to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in the least developed countries by 2020”.

While 5G, IoT, and other technological advancements are rapidly entering the market in many nations, there are still over three billion people who don’t have access to the Internet. A majority of those without access are in developing regions where concomitant factors of poor national governance, a dearth of relevant infrastructure, and lack of inward investment, serve to limit the populations’ access to basic connectivity.

Closing the digital gap in the global economy is a significant opportunity for the entire telecommunications value chain. But doing so sustainably is not easy. To increase Internet access, the following issues need a resolution: –

  1. Availability – One of the biggest reasons why many people don’t access to the Internet is due to the lack of adequate infrastructure. All other issues don’t even come into play without the availability of network and other infrastructure, such as regular electricity supplies, to provide Internet access.
  2. Affordability – refers to the cost of service, the cost of the handset or device used to access the internet. Also, access to affordable electricity is necessary for running and recharging devices.
  3. Applicability – are there good quality, localized content and services available to support consumers gaining access for the first time? Much of the Internet content is developed for and consumed by relatively affluent global audiences. For marginal communities, this content is irrelevant and unreadable.
  4. Capability – Government policies need to support digital development as well as people’s ability to take-up services based on aspects including awareness of the value of internet services, literacy etc.

            Exhibit: Counterpoint Research – Barriers to Connectivity

Conventional telecommunications business models will not provide the solution. The cost to cover the unconnected far exceeds the potential returns on the required investment. Nevertheless, telcos can contribute by using innovative infrastructure solutions. And there are alternatives, including shared network models that allow telcos to offset some of the risks and provide smaller businesses with opportunities to develop regional or even community-level solutions.

We have analyzed multiple initiatives around the world and found relatively few, sustainable, attempts to build Internet access for users that have otherwise been denied access due to issues of affordability or access to infrastructure. The leading examples include Reliance Jio in India, MTN across several African markets, and Telefonica in several Latin American markets.

Each operator was facing a distinct set of issues, and each is solving those issues in a range of different ways. For example, Reliance Jio has pioneered a new device type – the smart feature phone – and is using deeply discounted data services and subsidized handsets to build a large subscriber base rapidly. It can monetize this subscriber-base through an Internet-like business model. MTN is segmenting the unconnected population and is developing new, low-cost infrastructure that radically changes its cost profile. This enables it to provide sustainable and affordable Internet access. Telefonica is pioneering a partnership approach to overcome difficulties of geography to provide access to previously unconnected communities. These approaches need not be unique but do require concerted efforts by telecom providers to reach across the digital divide and provide access to a large section of the population that would otherwise be unable to connect to Internet-based services.

Nevertheless, not all the unconnected will be able to obtain benefits from Internet access in the foreseeable future. This is because of issues related to the applicability of content and services to the current situation of some populations. Also, the capability will hinder a section of the population from reaping the benefits of Internet access. A collaborative approach from all the ecosystem players is needed to connect the next billion.

The analysis is an excerpt from the detailed report “Achieving the Sustainable Internet Access for the next Billion”. The report analyses multiple initiatives around the world to find sustainable attempts to build internet access for users that have otherwise been denied access due to issues of affordability or access to infrastructure.

Increasing Smartphone Adoption Drives Growth in Middle East and Africa

  • MEA Smartphone market grew 6% YoY in Q1 2019.
  • Over 70% of the total smartphones sold in the region were in the sub-US$150 price segment.
  • There is an increasing transition of users from feature phones to smartphones.

 New Delhi, Hong Kong, Seoul, London, Beijing, San Diego, Buenos Aires –May 30, 2019

 The smartphone market in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 6% year-on-year (YoY) in Q1 2019, while the feature phone segment declined 6% (YoY), according to Counterpoint Market Pulse. Overall handset market grew 1% YoY.

Commenting on the smartphone market growth, Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, said, “There is an increasing transition of users from feature phones to smartphones in the region. Availability of affordable devices, the growing ecosystem of refurbished devices, and increasing internet penetration are fuelling the switch to smartphones, especially in the African Region. In the larger African countries, like Nigeria and Kenya, smartphones remain the primary medium to access internet services. There is also increasing popularity of the mobile money ecosystem, which is driving further smartphone adoption.  Price remains a key factor for smartphone adoption. Over 70% of the total smartphones sold in the region were in the sub- US$150 price segment. “

Transsion Group dominates the handset market in MEA, commanding a 19% market share in the smartphone segment and a 71% market share in the feature phone segment. Affordability and localized offerings underline the dominance of the Transsion’s brands. Features like longer battery life and optimized cameras for local needs make them a popular option. The brands also have a deep distribution network in Africa.

A large section of the population in MEA still uses 2G feature phones. Commenting on the feature phone segment, Varun Mishra, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research said,” Although declining, feature phone remained relevant in the MEA and contributed to 34% of the total handsets sold during the quarter. In terms of shipments, MEA has surpassed India to become the largest feature phone market globally in 2019. Factors like the dearth of infrastructure, affordability, literacy, and ease of use continue to make feature phones a viable option in the region.”

MTN and Orange announced smart feature phones running on KaiOS in the African market for as low as US$20. Commenting on the smart feature phone segment, Varun Mishra added, “A smart feature phone would help users transition from 2G to 3G/4G in an affordable manner with minimal changes in the form-factor. The network transition and application ecosystem would open new monetization avenues for telecom players and increase the overall average revenue per user (ARPU) of operators in the competitive African market.  Smart feature phone would serve as the middle ground between the feature phones and smartphones. Although feature phone shipments would decline in the future, the smart feature phone segment remains poised for growth. Many users are likely to access high-speed internet first time through a smart feature phone. Fostering a partnership model among ecosystem players, like KaiOS, would drive the initial access cost down, which would help increase internet penetration in the region and thus provide long-term profitability.”


              Exhibit 1: MEA Smartphone Market Share                  MEA Feature Phone Market Share

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Pulse Q1 2019


Market Summary:

  • The top five smartphone brands captured 49% of the market.
  • Samsung led the smartphone market by volume, capturing one-fifth of the total smartphone market in Q1 2019. However, the sell-through for the brand declined 23% YoY in MEA.
  • Huawei was one of the fastest growing brand driven by the Y9 and P20 Lite. The brand grew 27% YoY. HONOR also grew 122% YoY, albeit small base. However, the future for both Huawei and HONOR remains uncertain amid the current US-China trade war.
  • Sub-US$100 segment captured 55% of the total smartphone market. Premium segment (US$400 and above) captured single-digit market share in the price-sensitive MEA market.
  • Close to one-fifth of the smartphones in the MEA region are still 3G. Although the transition is happening from 3G to 4G, as 4G capable handsets become more affordable and network availability increases.
  • Feature Phones contributed to over one-third of the total sell-through in Q1 2019.
  • iTel and Tecno lead the feature phone segment together, capturing over 70% of market share. Tecno defied the feature phone segment decline and grew 15% YoY.

The comprehensive and in-depth Q1 2019 Market Pulse is available for subscribing clients. Please feel free to contact us at press(at) for further questions regarding our in-depth latest research, insights or press inquiries.


Analyst Contacts:

Tarun Pathak

Varun Mishra

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More than a Billion Feature Phones to be Sold over Next Three Years

Globally, the feature phone segment is forecast to generate around US$16 billion cumulatively in wholesale hardware revenues over the next three years. India remains the largest market in terms of potential feature phone volumes followed by Bangladesh and Nigeria. 

Seoul, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Beijing, London, Buenos Aires, San Diego

March 13th, 2019

In contrast to the smartphone market, which contracted for the first time in 2018, the feature phone market has continued to grow over the last three years. Latest research from Counterpoint Research estimates that in 2019, a little more than 400 million feature phones will be sold globally. Further, feature phone shipments are expected to cross one billion units by 2021.

According to Peter Richardson, Research Director at Counterpoint Research, India and the Middle East Africa region will drive the growth of the global feature phone market by capturing nearly three-quarter of the market share in 2019. “India and the Middle East Africa region will see cumulative shipments of around 800 million feature phones out of more than one billion global feature phone shipments over the next three years. Globally, the feature phone segment is forecast to generate around US$16 billion cumulatively in wholesale hardware revenues over the next three years,” Peter says.

Exhibit 1: Cumulative Feature Phone Shipments Opportunity by Geography (Millions of Units)


While India remains the largest market in terms of feature phone volumes, it is closely followed by Bangladesh and Nigeria. In Africa, growth is led by brands like itel and TECNO.

Much of the growth of feature phones in India has been driven by the revival of the Nokia-branded features phones and the popularity of the Jio Phone, a smart feature phone which packs a chipset and an operating system that can support sophisticated smartphone-like features in a traditional feature phone form-factor. The Jio Phone uses KaiOS as the operating system. KaiOS has also been expanding its reach in Africa. At the recently held Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, KaiOS announced partnerships with African operator Orange to launch KaiOS-powered smart feature phones priced at US$20 across 16 countries in Africa and the Middle East.

There are several reasons why feature phones are the preferred mobile phone in many markets globally, despite the tremendous adoption of smartphones. An important factor is affordability. The bottom of the pyramid population across the world simply cannot afford a smartphone.

“There are more than three billion people across the world who live on an income of less than US$2.50 per day. This segment can neither afford a smartphone nor the data services demanded by the growing advancement in smartphone use-cases. Thus, a feature phone, coupled with basic mobile services has been the go-to offering for these users to communicate and connect. Most of these users are prevalent across Africa, parts of Asia and Latin America,” says Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research.

There is also a business case for network operators to push feature phones. In most markets, network operators want customers to upgrade from 2G/3G to 4G networks. “The problem is most of these users still cannot afford a 4G smartphone. Therefore, operators and the mobile industry players need to offer 4G VoLTE feature phones and move users to the more efficient 4G network,” says Pathak.

Counterpoint Research believes the rise of 4G capability in feature phones will be one of the key trends moving forward which will allow the feature phone segment to remain relatively resilient in the medium term.

Further, there are also several use cases that are driving the sales of feature phones. For example, industry segments like construction require rugged devices with technologies like PTT (Push-To-Talk) to cope with the hostile environment. Feature phones offer a viable alternative for this segment.

Similarly, there is also a need for longer battery life. Varun Mishra, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research explains, “The emerging markets of India and Nigeria have the greatest number of people without access to electricity. However, the phone remains an important part of people’s lives in these regions as well. Amid the dearth of electricity, in some cases, the user is dependent on public charging stations (shops giving facilities to charge phones in return for a payment). Long battery life becomes crucial in such situations.”

Counterpoint Research believes that markets in Africa, especially Kenya, Ethiopia, and Tanzania have the highest potential for feature phones. In terms of the total addressable market opportunity, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa remain the key markets.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in Technology products in the TMT industry. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of 13 years in high-tech industries.

Analyst Contacts:

Peter Richardson

Tarun Pathak
+91 997-121-3665

Varun Mishra
+91 991-502-0142

Follow Counterpoint Research

Smart Feature Phones to Create US$28 billion Revenue Opportunity

Seoul, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Beijing, London, Buenos Aires, San Diego

February 18th, 2019

As the penetration of smart feature phones increases across the world, new business and revenue opportunities will be created for the entire mobile value chain.

Over the next three years, nearly 370 million smart feature phones are expected to be sold across the world, according to the latest research from Counterpoint Research. This will introduce an entirely untapped customer base to high-speed internet, apps and services and in doing so, open a whole host of new business and revenue opportunities for the entire mobile value chain.

According to Neil Shah, Research Director at Counterpoint Research the revenue opportunity from increasing sales of smart feature phones is expected to be in the region of US$28 billion over the next three years. Shah adds, “This will be enabled by a potential of more than 300 million smart feature phone users globally by the end of 2021. Software & Services alone will contribute to 71% of this near- to mid-term revenue opportunity, or around US$20 billion.”

Exhibit 1: Global Smart Feature Phone Opportunity Revenues (US$, Billions)

Global Smart Feature Phone Opportunity Revenues (US$, Billions)

A smart feature phone is a device with a traditional feature phone form-factor and design but with a chipset and an operating system which can support sophisticated smartphone-like features such as high-speed internet access along with an application and services ecosystem. A smart feature phone serves as a perfect middle ground between feature phone and smartphone reducing the barriers to access the digital world.

While the trend to migrate to smartphones is strong, less tech-savvy users and first-time users continue to prefer a feature phone form-factor and user interface (UI). In many African countries and India, literacy rates remain well below 70%. For users in such countries, moving to a smartphone is a steep learning curve which is why there are still two billion active users of feature phones across the world. This is the space that smart feature phones will enter.

“The global smart feature phone demand grew 252% year-on-year in 2018 – albeit from a low base, contributing roughly 16% of the total feature phone volumes. While India is the biggest contributor to this demand, major markets that have driven smart feature phone sales include the United States, United Kingdom, South East Asia and Africa. We estimate that smart feature phones will cross more than half of global feature phone volumes by 2021,” says Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research.

One of the key companies that has been driving this growth of smart feature phones is KaiOS. KaiOS is a software platform powering this new segment of phones and helping the digital inclusion of feature phone users with native support for 3G/4G networks as well as a curated app and services ecosystem. Over the last year and a half, eight KaiOS-powered devices have been launched with multiple models launching in 1Q 2019. These models have been launched across North America, Europe, Africa, South East Asia, and India.

Reliance Jio has been fastest to see the opportunity and adopt the platform to acquire tens of millions of 2G feature phone users to its 4G network with its KaiOS-powered 4G smart feature phone. The company’s Jio Phone, is the world’s leading VoLTE-supported KaiOS-based smart feature phone. It was launched at a price of US$20 and is the current exemplar of a smart feature phone value proposition and execution globally. Out of more than 100 million subscribers that Reliance Jio added since the Jio Phone launch in late 2017, the KaiOS powered 4G smart feature phone contributes close to half of those net additions. 

The largest beneficiary from the growth in smart feature phones will be network operators. Existing 2G customers can be moved to a more efficient 4G network. Network operators can then free-up the 2G spectrum and re-farm it for 4G, upcoming 5G or Low Power Wireless Access (LPWA) IoT networks. Further, as customers move to the 4G network, operators can drive voice as well as data revenues increasing their average revenue per user (ARPU).

“Perhaps the biggest benefit of 4G smart feature phone adoption for operators is the opportunity to accelerate the adoption of more efficient technologies with much lower cost/bit metrics with users on 4G/5G networks than on 2G/3G networks. Further, operators have the potential to drive voice as well as data revenues and, in the process, increase the 4G ARPU. It will help operators achieve a return on 4G equipment and network rollouts. We estimate close to US$ 15 Billion in connectivity service revenues will be generated, cumulatively, between 2019 and 2021,” says Varun Mishra, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research.

This report is available for subscribing clients and for purchase on our research portal. Please feel free to reach out to us at press(at) for further questions regarding our in-depth latest research, insights or press enquiries.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in Technology products in the TMT industry. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of 13 years in high-tech industries.

Analyst Contacts:

Neil Shah
+91 993-021-8469

Tarun Pathak
+91 997-121-3665

Varun Mishra
+91 991-502-0142

Follow Counterpoint Research

Picture Credit: Neil Palmer (CIAT): Flickr

KaiOS : Bridging The Digital Divide

Mobile devices have consumed the world. They’re the most successful consumer durable product of all time. Smartphones now get all the attention. In the current evolved state the two major smartphone platforms, iOS and Android) have revolutionized mobile devices by making them smarter through an abundance of  applications and services that satisfy almost any use-case. In the smartphone sector iOS and Android are a duopoly, with Android essentially the only option for anything non-Apple, albeit there are many ‘flavors’ of Android – especially in China.

Beyond smartphones, there are still around half a billion feature phones sold every year. These continue to serve the needs of the roughly two billion feature phones users globally. This is still a huge market catering to a diverse user base many of whom continue to buy and use feature phones in preference to smartphones. The reasons for adherence to feature phones are as diverse as the user base, but include

  • Preference for simplicity
  • Lighter, robust form-factors
  • Longer battery life
  • Lower cost

Some feature phone users also suffer from digital, economic or literacy divides and face barriers to adopt relatively expensive smartphones and data plans. Especially as low-cost smartphones tend to offer poor performance and poor quality.

This is a huge opportunity for the mobile industry, to help bridge the digital divide and enable these users to more fully participate in the digital economy, but on their terms.

A gap exists in terms of offering a solution that can form an ecosystem with different players contributing to bridge this divide.

This is where KaiOS Technologies comes into play with its web (HTML5) based – lightweight operating system with a user interface that can be optimized  for non-touch or feature phone form-factors.

KaiOS is already powering tens of millions of users. It has done this by striking the right partnerships with OEMs and operators across key markets.

KaiOS Key Ecosystem Partnerships so far


Download the complimentary report on KaiOS platform positioning, growth, opportunities, challenges and forecast can be downloaded at our research portal here:


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