Linux-based KaiOS has surpassed Apple’s iOS as the second most used operating system in India, a new study reports. The study by DeviceAtlas found that KaiOS now has 15% share of the Indian market while iOS has fallen to 9.6%. Even Android lost market share by 11.4% in the last year, but it remains to be the most used operating system in India with current share at 71.6%. iOS lost 1.4% in the Indian market over the last year.
The study also explores the comeback of feature phones, which it says is largely driven by the Indian market, specifically the launch of Lyf/Jio range of KaiOS-powered handsets. “Reliance Jio, India’s third largest operator with over 160 million subscribers, have in recent months taken the tariff war to the next level, and as a result, their branded devices dominate the feature phone landscape,” the report says. Notably, 88% of all feature phone traffic in our 2017 data came from India.
This trend was also recently pointed out in a research by CounterPoint, which noted the surprising shift in the Indian market where shipments (sold to retailers) of feature phones in India doubled in the first quarter of 2018 (Q1 2018) year-on-year while the smartphone market remained flat in the same period. That report also attributed the surge in popularity to the JioPhone range.
While feature phones remain an active part of most countries mobile ecosystem, no country has seen as impressive an impact as India, the DeviceAtlas report said.
On the basis of year of release for the feature phones, those released in 2005 (including the Nokia 6230i and N70) drove 6.6% of total traffic. However, phones released in 2017 accounted for almost 90% of the data.
While the exact numbers were not clear, the report mentions its statistics are based on device usage data pulled from DeviceAtlas, a device detection solution. DeviceAtlas works by parsing User-Agent strings which are looked up in the device description repository that includes over 49,700 unique entries.
KaiOS and Jio
The Jio Phone which was unveiled back in July 2017, is a 4G-enabled feature phone that offers some of the functionality of a smartphone. Jio has managed to have a disruptive impact in the handset market as it did in the telecom services market. This is largely because of the price it offers, a crucial metric in a newly-connected cost-sensitive India. The JioPhone is available practically for free: available for a refundable deposit of Rs 1500.
Jio’s popularity has also pushed KaiOS’s usage. The OS powers phone that it says are positioned between smartphones and feature phones. It is an early stage revenue company, with turnover of $ 9.25 million in 2017 and $ 2.5 million in 2016. In March, Reliance Retail has bought a 16% stake for around $7 million, in KaiOS Technologies, where it paid around $3.6 for each of 19,04,781 common shares. This was a key strategic development which may give Reliance more say or control in the software of its popular feature phone.