At the end of January, Facebook quietly launched Facebook Lite for emerging markets in Africa as well as some in Asia (Vietnam, Sri Lanka). They seem to be doing some small market testing, but are eyeing expansion. However, Facebook Lite is not new. It launched back in 2009 but was stopped in 2010 to much dismay.
First, what is Facebook Lite? Essentially a stripped-down version of the current Facebook mobile app, this “light” one is optimised for emerging markets who are hungry for social media but do not have a strong enough Internet connection or hardware to support them. It accommodates low-end as well as old Android devices, and the app itself is a tiny 252kb in size.
This comes at a time when Facebook is rapidly expanding and splitting its original mobile app. For example, Facebook chat now requires the separate Facebook messenger app to be accessed on your phone. Stickers and groups seem to be the same. Facebook Lite takes away the grandeur of its original, and provides only the very basic and crucial functions of the social networking site.
Back in September 2009, Facebook Lite launched. It was not a mobile app at a time, but had the same functions. Stripped-down and faster to load. It would make sense in the current day to develop an app instead, what with the rapidly rising penetration of smartphones in emerging markets.
After a short nine months, Facebook shut down the web-Lite (April 2010) – not with zero resistance. Many were disappointed and upset at the decision, with commenters saying things like, “We have lived in a foreign country where we pay for internet usage by both incoming and outgoing MB. Very Expensive. Facebook lite made it somewhat affordable.”
Hopefully, Facebook Lite will be successful this time round and will see expansion to Cambodia, where Internet connection in some areas is still weak. This could effectively connect more people together, especially those who have trouble using Facebook’s current app due to a myriad of reasons.
Facebook Lite can be found on Google Play here.