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Facebook Launches Facebook Lite Android App For Emerging Markets

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Facebook has unveiled an ultra-lightweight app for its social networking platform. Dubbed as “Facebook Lite”, the app is specifically developed for low end Android devices and is targeted towards users who live in developing countries of Asia and Africa. Along with Internet.org, the app represents yet another initiative from Facebook to bring high end technology to the masses.

Of the 1.2 billion users who log into Facebook every month, over 940 million access the site through mobile devices. Among the mobile users of the site, a significant number (almost 220 million) are from developing countries like Brazil, India and Indonesia. Although emerging markets present immense growth opportunities to companies like Facebook, they are still far behind the developed countries as far as the internet and cellular infrastructure is concerned.

While the internet subscribers in Western countries enjoy faster streaming and downloading at 4G speeds, many developing nations are yet to roll out 3G within their boundaries. What’s worse, internet access remains very expensive in many developing countries which explains why only one-third of the world population has access to the internet even though a majority live in areas that are covered by cellular networks.

Apart from unreliable infrastructure and high cost of the internet, online service providers like Facebook face yet another challenge in the emerging markets. While mobile users in developed countries have access to latest technology and do not think twice before spending money on the latest models of Smartphones and tablets, their counterparts living in developing nations are more likely to possess cheap and less powerful devices that may not be able to run the latest features rolled out by the service providers. This is one of the reasons why older versions of Android are still being used by millions of customers around the world.

Facebook has attempted to address the above challenges through its Facebook Lite app. Unlike the regular Facebook app which requires over 25 MB of space (plus 100+ MB for functioning smoothly), Facebook Lite needs just 252 KB of space. This size of the app alone makes it one of the lightest apps available on the Google Play store. In addition, the app is well-optimized to run on slower 2G connections and older version of Android (version 2.2 and above). The app is based on the Snaptu platform which was developed by the company as a feature phone client.

As far as functionality is concerned, Facebook Lite holds up very well to the actual Facebook app. The app allows users to upload and share photos, post status updates, send messages to friends, initiate group conversations as well as view and comment on the news feeds. Since its launch in the last week of January’ 2015, the app has been downloaded more than 5,00,000 times and has received positive feedback from most of its users (it has a rating of 4.3 on Google Play based on more than 17,500 user reviews). While the app is currently available only in emerging markets, Facebook may make it available in other countries depending on the feedback received from its user community.

Facebook Lite is available at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.facebook.lite

March 31, 2015

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