Facebook’s Lite app for slow mobile connections has officially been launched for Android users in India and Philippines, reports TheNextWeb. The social networking major had started testing this app in January this year. At the time, this app was available only in Bangladesh, Nepal, South Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Vietnam, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. The company claims that the app uses less data and is designed for 2G networks and areas with slow or unstable connections. Note that Facebook had earlier rolled out its ‘Facebook Lite’ website in 2009, specifically designed for low bandwidth usage in emerging markets.
Facebook Lite features all standard Facebook functions, like push notifications, chat including group conversation, and sharing on updates and photos among others. At 435KB, it’s literally a light app and will be perfect for some of the low-cost smartphones that have minimal internal memory. In comparison Facebook’s primary app, which doesn’t allow users to chat, is over 25MB in size and its companion messenger app is over 16MB in size.
Over the past 12 months, Facebook, which claims to have 118 million monthly active users in India (as of March 2015) of which over 89% are on mobile, has been exploring various avenues of reaching a greater share of users on slow mobile connections.
Missed calls initiative: In July last year, Facebook started testing a new ad unit, which allows users to place a missed call to an advertiser by clicking on an ad on their mobile phone. In the return call, users get access to additional content like cricket scores and celebrity messages among others. The content provided doesn’t involve additional airtime or data charges and is be ad-supported. Facebook had tied-up with Bangalore-based ZipDial for this. Incidentally ZipDial was later acquired by Twitter. Later in the year, Facebook also tied-up with VivaConnect to scale up the reach of its missed calls ad unit business.
Bandwidth targeting: Facebook had also introduced a new ad unit called bandwidth targeting that lets advertisers target ads based on the quality of the Facebook user’s network connection, in September last year. Vodafone India had reportedly already tested this ad unit. The company had also introduced state-level targeting for Indian advertisers, wherein advertisers could target people by state or even multiple states in India without having to list multiple cities.
Creative Accelerator: In March this year, Facebook launched Creative Accelerator, a program for advertisers to tailor advertising campaigns based on the user’s region and device used in developing countries. The social media platform was working with seven clients across five countries, including a partnership with Nestle in India, and partnerships with other brands in South Africa, Kenya, Turkey and Indonesia. Advertisers will also be able to develop and send rich media ads, such as videos, to users with faster Internet connections and still images and other relevant media, for users accessing Facebook on a weaker connection.
For the quarter ended March 31, 2015, mobile advertising accounted for around 73% of Facebook’s ad revenues, up from 59% in the same quarter last year and 69% in the previous quarter. Facebook generated mobile ad revenues of around $2.42 billion for the quarter. Facebook’s Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) for Asia-Pacific declined to $1.18 for the quarter, from $1.27 in the previous quarter, but up from $0.93 in the same quarter last year. Also, ARPU for Asia-Pacific continues to be the second lowest for Facebook, only behind Rest of World which had an ARPU of $0.80.