Facebook Lite launches as Zuckerberg eyes emerging markets

Facebook has launched a basic version of its mobile app as the social network looks to encourage growth in emerging markets.

Facebook Lite is specifically designed to work on budget Android smartphones and is currently being tested in a number of developing nations ahead of a wider launch.

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According to TechCrunch, the app has been launched in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa, Nigeria and Sudan. A large proportion of individuals in these countries are only able to afford lower-end handsets, meaning apps that require a great deal of processing power can run improperly or not at all.

The new Facebook app is based on its Snaptu freeware application, which works on 80 per cent of all available mobile phones, but also includes some of the usual Android features such as push notifications. Facebook Lite has also been built to work in areas with poor quality or 2G Internet connections.

Facebook and a number of other tech firms have made a concerted effort in recent times to appeal to emerging markets. With less than 40 per cent of the global population currently online, emerging markets offer huge growth potential to these companies. With budget Android phones proving the handset of choice in many of these countries, Facebook clearly sees these as the best avenue for expansion.

The social network also recently launched its Internet.org initiative in a few African and South American countries, which offers free mobile Internet access to select services, including its own Facebook app. The launch of Facebook Lite is likely to boost the company’s reach in poorer countries and is quicker to launch than the Internet.org scheme.

Google also has a free Internet project of its own, Project Loon, which uses high altitude balloons to connect people in remote areas.

Read more: Facebook brings free online access to Colombia with Internet.org launch

Facebook Lite is currently available in selected countries via the Google Play store now.