WhatsApp has only had limited availability on basic cellphones until now, but Facebook is about to throw the gates wide open. The messaging app is now available on the KaiStore, making it available to “millions” of low-cost KaiOS cellphones with at least 256MB of RAM. “Most” KaiOS phones will come preloaded with WhatsApp in the third quarter of the year, and that’s no small number when over 100 million of the phones have shipped to date.
The KaiOS app was first available on India’s JioPhone in September 2018.
The smartphone-oriented chat app is already a dominant platform with over 1.5 billion users around the world. This, however, could fill an important gap. There are still many people who can’t afford smartphones or just don’t care for them. The new WhatsApp client could help them connect not just to friends and family who are already on the platform, but stores, services and job opportunities. Although this won’t be reassuring to people worried that Facebook has too much power, it could help level the playing field for people who can’t justify a more expensive handset.