Facebook targets emerging markets with new Messenger Lite

The social media giant plans on winning over users in the developing world with lighter version of its popular messaging app

  • By Emily Cashen | Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg discusses Facebook Messenger at the 2015 F8 Summit. The social media site has now announced the arrival of Messenger Lite, which it hopes will attract users in developing economies

Facebook has launched a ‘lite’ version of its Messenger chat app, to cater for the growing number of Facebook users in developing economies. The new stripped-down Messenger Lite requires less data, allowing users with slow connections and older mobile phones to send text, images and links more efficiently.

“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”, the social media platform announced in a blog post. “With Messenger Lite, more people can stay in contact, regardless of network conditions or storage limitations on their Android devices.”

Facebook Messenger boasts over one billion monthly active users, yet has had limited success in the developing world

Messenger Lite will be launched initially in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malaysia, Tunisia and Venezuela, and will be expanding into other developing countries over the next few months.

Facebook Messenger – the hugely popular app Messenger Lite is modelled on – boasts over one billion monthly active users, yet has had limited success in the developing world. The main version of the app requires a significant amount of both data and storage, often preventing users with slower internet connections from fully accessing the app.

In recent months, Facebook has been ramping up its ambitions in less-developed economies. In early September, the social network planned to launch a pioneering $200m satellite, which was intended to deliver internet access to rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. While a launch-pad explosion left the satellite grounded, Facebook promised to continue on its mission of “connecting everyone”.

As part of this ongoing drive, Facebook added Fula, Hausa and a number of other global languages to its services, bringing the number of available language options on the site to over 100. Last year, the social media platform also launched Facebook Lite, a slimmed-down version of its main app, which reached 100 million monthly active users by March 2016.

The introduction of the new Messenger Lite reaffirms Facebook’s desire to appeal to new users in developing countries. With the social media market reaching saturation point in the Western world, targeting emerging markets may prove vital for Facebook’s future growth.