This new Facebook app might save you lots of money on your phone bill
Facebook announced recently that its Android app “Facebook Lite,” the stripped down version of its service, has passed the impressive milestone of 100 million monthly active users, making it the social network’s fastest growing mobile app. What makes this growth all the more impressive is that it has occurred in just nine months, which is far faster than it took Facebook’s main mobile app to reach that many users. Facebook says it is most popular in India, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but it is available in 150 countries.
Facebook Lite was originally created for use in emerging nations where older and cheaper smartphones are available, but fast Internet speeds are not. The app itself is only 1MB, compared to the full Facebook app’s 42MB. Facebook Lite is not too scaled back, though—features such as video playback, pinch-to-zoom photos and emoji support were recently added to the app. Still, it’s smaller and runs fewer features, which translates to more space on your phone for other apps and a potentially smaller drain on your precious data plan. Or, for users in parts of the world without the easy access to Internet we enjoy here, it means a chance to connect to Facebook at all.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg has often stressed the importance of connecting the world’s developing nations to the Internet. The man puts his money where his mouth is: Facebook has employees stationed worldwide, and the company regularly sends staff to emerging markets to sample the conditions that its services must work with. Last year, the company introduced ‘2G Tuesdays’ to help U.S.-based employees experience emerging market conditions for themselves.
Of course, not all of Zuckerberg’s methods for reaching those emerging markets are met with praise. Facebook also runs its Free Basics service, formerly known as Internet.org, which helps connect ‘the next billion’ by offering a selection of web services for free. The service is controversial because Facebook hand selects the service that users can see, a policy which led India to block the service on the grounds that it violated the principles of net neutrality.
We’re interested to see how Facebook continues to expand its presence around the globe—and how it continues to tweak and optimize its existing products for all users.