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Finally, Facebook Messenger Lite for Android arrives in India

Nine months after Facebook Messenger Lite was first launched in Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela, and about three months after it was expanded to 150 additional countries, it has finally arrived in India. Messenger Lite, which is targeted at people/markets with “slower-than-average Internet speeds and a prevalence of basic Android smartphones”, is under 10MB in size and is available in the Play Store.

Messenger Lite is just like the Facebook Lite app launched in June 2015, which uses less data and is designed for 2G networks and areas with slow or unstable connections. As of March 2016, Facebook Lite had crossed 100 million users worldwide. While, Messenger had crossed the 1 billion monthly active users mark back in July 2016.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it will start placing ads in its Messenger app’s home tab screen globally, for a small percentage of users towards the end of July. These ads were first tested in Australia and Thailand this January. Apart from this, Messenger will also have ‘sponsored messages’ which will allow advertisers to directly interact with users through a chat window. The company had started monetizing via Messenger since September last year. It allowed businesses to build Messenger bots and communicate to users directly. Note that Facebook makes almost 85% of its revenue from mobile ads.

It’s worth noting that during Facebook’s F8 developer conference, in April, the company had also said that Messenger can now be used as a Telephone directory for finding new users and as a digital Yellow Pages book for finding new businesses and services. More on this here.

Other ‘Lite’ apps

  • Twitter: launched a data-optimised version of its app, Twitter Lite in April 2017, and claimed that it is 30% faster than its native app and reduces data usage. It also made Twitter Lite compatible with six Indic languages: Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Tamil, Gujarati, and Marathi.
  • Microsoft: launched Skype Lite in February 2017. The app can run on lower-end phones and slow 2G networks. Earlier this month, Microsoft has rolled out its Aadhaar integration on Skype Lite. The integration allows users to verify their identity online, in order to, as per Microsoft, “prevent impersonation fraud”. The company said that the interaction is encrypted, and that Skype will not store any Aadhaar information.
  • MobiKwik: digital payments company MobiKwik launched its low bandwidth app MobiKwik Lite, which allows payment transfer between users, in November 2016. The company later slightly tweaked the app’s usability. Subsequently, MobiKwik added support for six regional languages, including Bengali, Oriya, Punjabi, Gujrati, Tamil, and Telugu, besides English and Hindi.
  • Lenskart: launched an Android app called Lenskart Lite in January 2017, which requires no internet for shopping, and is designed to work with slower 2G and Edge networks.

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