Some of you might not be aware of it, but Facebook offers a stripped down version of its app, called Facebook Lite, designed for people who might not have great Internet connections or powerful smartphones, such as those in the developing world.
After launching back in June, the Android-only app has grown to 100 million users – a quicker growth rate than Facebook’s standard mobile app. According to Facebook, the app is most popular in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Philippines, however the app supports 56 languages and is available in 150 countries.
The app takes up only 1MB of storage, ensuring that those with slow Internet connections can still download it easily (bringing the app down to 1MB was no easy task, as Facebook explained in its blog post). Of course, its functionality is quite pared down, but Facebook is looking to improve the app by adding things like support for video, emojis, and multiple photo uploads.
It’s likely that we’ll continue to see Facebook refine the app as time goes on, especially considering how fast it’s now growing. While, at 100 million users, the app still represents a small segment of Facebook’s 1.59 billion users, that could certainly change as those in the developing world continue to gain access to smartphones and cellular networks. (Editors’ note: It’s also an interesting alternative for Facebook users who find the regular app overwhelming.)
Of course, Facebook Lite isn’t the only service that the company is offering in the developing world, with many major tech companies looking toward countries like India and China as the next major markets to enter. For example, the company also offers its Free Basics Internet service, which basically provides a selection of services to users free of charge. Free Basics has been the subject of controversy of late, with critics arguing that it bypasses good practices in net neutrality because of the fact that Facebook selects which services are free. In fact, because of that, India has blocked the app.
In any case, apps like Facebook Lite are expected to continue to take off as technology improves in the developing world, and we will most likely see the release of more, similar services from Facebook and other companies.