Facebook is targeting emerging markets with a stripped-down version of its Messenger app for users with basic Android phones and shaky wireless connections.
Messenger Lite supports core features such as sending and receiving texts, photos and links to users with Messenger or Messenger Lite, the mammoth social network said, but requires less than 10 MB of memory.
“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,” wrote Tom Mulcahy, engineering manager for Messenger Lite, on the company’s blog. “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.”
Messenger Lite works on Android phones as dated as 7 years old, Cnet reported, and run the Gingerbread version of the OS. The app is initially being rolled out in Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela, the company said. It will be deployed in more markets “in the coming months.”
The launch is the latest in a long series of Facebook efforts to reach users in emerging markets, where low-end to mid-range handsets dominate the market and where access to mobile networks can be difficult to find. In early 2015 the company quietly launched Facebook Lite, a version of its flagship app designed specifically to work on 2G networks and in areas with poor connectivity.
In 2014 Facebook spent a whopping $21.8 billion to acquire WhatsApp, which had gained significant traction as an over-the-top messaging service particularly for users in emerging markets. And the company continues to pursue its zero-rated Free Basics offering, which enables users to access mobile data in exchange for receiving ads, although India banned the service earlier this year after ruling it infringed the principles of net neutrality.
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