Facebook has unveiled Messenger Lite, a new easy-of-use app for older smartphones and slower internet.

Although Messenger Lite is a ‘slimmed down’ version, the company said it retains the primary features of the full app such as sharing text and photos.

“Furthering our goal to empower people all over the world to stay connected, today we’re launching a new app called Messenger Lite, a standalone version of Messenger for Android”, said Tom Mulcahy, engineering manager for Messenger Lite.

“Messenger Lite is a slimmed down version of Messenger that offers the core features of Messenger for markets with slower than average internet speeds and a prevalence of basic Android smartphones. With Messenger Lite, people are able to quickly and easily send text, photos and links to anyone using Messenger or Messenger Lite.

“More than 1 billion people around the world use Messenger every month from a range of mobile devices on networks of various speeds and reliability. With Messenger Lite, more people can stay in contact, regardless of network conditions or storage limitations on their Android devices.

“Messenger Lite was built to give people a great Messenger experience, no matter what technology they use or have access to”, Mulcahy added.

An analyst said this cut-down version would “drive adoption of services” in developing markets.

“Targeting users in emerging markets with ‘lite’ apps is not a new phenomenon,” said Jack Kent, of the IHS Markit consultancy.

“Companies such as Google and Line also offer streamlined services for users in emerging markets.

“It makes sense to provide streamlined service to drive adoption of services rather than monetise users immediately.”

When Facebook discontinued messaging in the mobile app with the goal of nudging users toward the Messenger app they were criticised.

Subsequent to the negative feedback from that action, Stan Chudnovsky, head of product at Facebook Messenger, said the company discovered that people sent more messages when messenger was offered as a separate app.

The new Messenger Lite is 95% smaller than the full version. Users will now get an app of less than 10mb as opposed to the full 150mb on Android devices.

Messenger Lite app will be available on Android devices, initially in Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela.



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