Facebook is working on an app called Facebook Lite, which is optimized for low-end Android devices in emerging markets.
Facebook Lite launched in a limited number of countries across Asia and Africa over the weekend, according to TechCrunch.
Depending on the app’s feedback, Facebook Lite may expand to other countries.
The Facebook Lite app is only 252KB, a size that is substantially lower than the 70.1MB Facebook iOS app and the 25MB Facebook Android app.
Facebook Lite also works well on 2G Internet connections. The Facebook Lite app is based on Facebook’s feature phone client called Snaptu. Facebook Lite runs on Android 2.2 devices and up.
In August 2013, Facebook chief executive officer and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg partnered with six mobile companies to launch an initiative called Internet.org.
The goal of Internet.org is to bring Internet access to people around the world by increasing affordability and efficiencies. Over 85% of the global population lives in areas that have existing cellular coverage, but only 30% of the total population accesses the Internet.
This is why Internet.org launched an app that is available in several emerging markets and offers access to AccuWeather, eZeLibrary, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Facts For Life, Google Search, Go Zambia Jobs, Kokoliko, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), Wikipedia, Women’s Rights App (WRAPP) and Zambia uReport. The Facebook Lite app appears to complement the goals of Internet.org.
Facebook Lite lets users post status updates, upload photos, comment on the News Feed, message friends and set up group conversations. The app has received very positive reviews right out of the gate.
So far, the app has been rated by over 700 people with an average of 4.5 stars out of 5 on the Google Play app store. The app has been downloaded between 10,000 and 50,000 times.
It is available for download in Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Last year, Facebook started testing an advertising tool in India involving missed calls. Many people in India tend to use missed calls as a workaround for the high costs of voice calls similar to the way that people use collect calls in the U.S. People in India dial a number and then hang up before connecting to the person that they called to save voice minutes.
This lets the caller on the other end know to call back or that someone is waiting outside for them. Some of the Facebook ads shown on feature phones in India contain a “Missed Call” button.
Clicking on that button sends branded content like ringtones, music, cricket scores and celebrity messages from advertisers without consuming airtime or data.
Facebook has over 1.23 billion monthly active users and about 945 million of them are mobile users. Of the total mobile users, Facebook has over 100 million mobile users in India, 60 million mobile users in Indonesia and 57 million mobile users in Brazil.
Growth in emerging markets presents a tremendous opportunity and Facebook Lite could potentially help Facebook reach their next billion users.