In January of this year, Facebook quietly begun testing a stripped version of its Facebook for Android application called the Facebook Lite. The application was available in select eight countries which included Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria, Nepal, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. The application was developed with the aim of allowing users in countries with low internet connectivity to access the application. In addition, the app took less than 1 MB of storage space unlike the official Facebook application that gobbles 25 MB.
In early May, Facebook decided to open up its internet.org platform to developers by offering its API. In doing so the company specific technical guidelines aimed at keeping data consumption low with the applications. In line with its own guidelines, Facebook has launched the Facebook Lite application targeting the same demographic largely covered by the Internet.org project. Internet.org is an ambitious project launched during the 2014 mobile world congress in Barcelona by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The platform was intended at making internet access available to the two-thirds of the world not yet connected. The platform launched in partnership with industry giants such as Nokia,Qualcomm and telecom carriers, to use solar-powered drones and spacecraft to beam internet to the developing world.
Facebook is intent on gaining its next Billion users from these markets which primarily access the internet through cheap mobile devices. Through Internet. org, the company is set to achieve this goal faster. Facebook has confirmed that it track users’ online activity but all it governed by Facebook’s standard data policies through the internet.org platform and this may offer a better platform to serve relevant ads to users in these markets going forward. With maturing user adoption in developed markets, Facebook Lite will help the social networking giant build a new user base. The new application includes Facebook’s core experiences like News Feed, status updates, photos, notifications and all other Facebook features. Interestingly, Facebook Lite looks a lot like Snaptu, a service acquired by Facebook and used as the core of Facebook Mobile.