Facebook has come out with a “lite” version of its Messenger app, in a bid to reach users in emerging markets where mobile internet connections are slow. In a blog post published Monday, the company described Facebook Messenger Lite as a “slimmed down version of Messenger” designed for basic Android phones with low memory. The app rolls out today to users in Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela, before expanding to other markets in coming months.
The announcement marks Facebook’s latest effort to expand its reach in developing countries, following the launch of Facebook Lite, a stripped-down version of its flagship app, and Free Basics, which allows users to access certain websites that don’t count against their monthly data plans. The company has touted its campaign to connect the so-called “next billion” users in emerging markets, though it has come under criticism for violating net neutrality by seeking to lock new users in to its own services.
ON TO THE “NEXT BILLION”
Messenger Lite offers the same core functions as Messenger, enabling users to send and receive texts, photos, and links, and to receive stickers. Facebook also says that the app is fast and easy to download, with a size of under 10MB. In July, the social network announced that Messenger has more than 1 billion active users, a few months after the Facebook-owned WhatsApp reached the same milestone.
“With Messenger Lite, more people can stay in contact, regardless of network conditions or storage limitations on their Android devices,” Tom Mulcahy, Engineering Manager for Messenger Lite, wrote in a blog post. “Messenger Lite was built to give people a great Messenger experience, no matter what technology they use or have access to.”