Mozilla and KaiOS' new partnership may result in a better future for feature phones
Most consumers asked to name as many mobile device operating systems as possible might start off with iOS and Android, then trail off into vague mumbling after that. However, there are more platforms out there besides the big 2. KaiOS is widely regarded as the next one down: it is strongly associated with feature-phones and extreme budget phones, approximately 100 million of which it runs on worldwide.
This is due to the web engine the system has historically incorporated. It is Mozilla's Gecko, but a long-outdated, pre-Quantum version of the same. It rendered KaiOS incompatible with new standards and tech such as WebGL, meaning sites got less and less functional on this system without specific customizations, leaving it increasingly vulnerable to stagnation and ultimate irrelevance.
However, Mozilla and KaiOS have now reportedly collaborated in order to remedy this situation. The YouTuber TechAltar claims to have been exclusively informed that the latter will become based on Firefox extended security releases (ESRs) in the future: for example, its upcoming update (3.0) will be based on ESR 78. KaiOS would then push this upgrade to the manufacturers with which it works, which include Nokia and those OEMs that supply feature phones to carriers.
ESRs are Mozilla's frequently-updated browser versions with enterprise-grade stability and security. Therefore, this new partnership may represent a radical upgrade for KaiOS in terms of being able to use the web, not to mention its in-built browser.
On that note, it is pretty easy to see how this app's maker benefits from the arrangement: it could put mobile Firefox in the hands of millions of new users going forward, thus potentially increasing its market share - which was less than 1% at the end of 2019. TechAltar estimates that this overhaul of KaiOS will start to take effect in 2021.