Last Thursday, Facebook launched their highly anticipated app, Facebook Lite. It has all the basic features that the flagship Facebook app has, but it runs on less than 1 MB of data. For some perspective, the traditional Facebook app takes up 25 MB. It will be accessible across all network conditions, specifically extending to developing countries with poor internet connection. Vijay Shankar, the product manager for Facebook Lite, stated that Facebook’s core experiences like News Feed, status updates, photos, and notifications are all accessible through Lite. However, users will not be able to watch videos or use location tracking.
Essentially, Facebook Lite is the key to open the doorway to the non-westernized world. According to the Telecommunication Development Bureau, 95% of the world’s population has access to 2G internet. As you can imagine, Facebook has now tapped into a completely new market. The app is currently available to android users in Asia, and in the coming weeks Facebook Lite will be accessible in places such as Latin America, Europe, and parts of Africa. With the “Lite” app, Facebook has the potential to reach over 5 billion people. 5 billion.
With this news, I have some questions that I am hoping will be answered in the coming weeks as Facebook Lite is released to more countries.
Will Facebook channel its former self in order to save data?
Remember when Facebook looked like this?
It was a simpler time, that’s for sure. Simpler times also meant much less space on your device, whether that was your desktop or your mobile device. Granted the website above was the desktop layout for several years, the app has had some significant changes, as well. With only 1 MB of data for Facebook Lite, I am curious whether or not Facebook will channel its younger self and provide a basic layout compared to the extremely sophisticated one we have now. Will these profiles have a cover photo, or just a profile picture? Can you view a Facebook Lite profile from the Facebook app? There are so many questions about this foreign app, and I can’t wait to learn more information as it is released and modified.
How will Facebook integrate itself into the cultures of developing countries?
In America and Western Europe, Facebook and other social media outlets are apart of our culture and daily routine. However, that is not the case for several of the areas that Facebook is now targeting. How will Facebook make a lasting imprint in these countries to ensure they become loyal users to the social media site? The creators of Facebook are going to have to tailor the app to people in Latin America or Africa or Eastern Europe so that each individual can have a unique experience that pertains to them. They aren’t going to want to see memes and stories with titles like “He walked into a store, you won’t believe what happens when he walks out”. It will be interesting to see how Facebook ensures that Facebook Lite’s newsfeeds doesn’t become cluttered with junk.
There is already chatter that companies have been trying to buy advertising for the new app. Although it is inevitable that advertisements will appear on Facebook Lite, I hope Facebook will be smart in their marketing tactics. Much like tailoring the app to each person, the advertising must be local and unique, as well. No one likes ads, but if it’s advertising for a shop or business that the person knows about, they won’t mind seeing it as much, and may even feel a sense of unity to their community.
Will Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest follow in Facebook’s footsteps?
Whether we like it or not, Facebook tends to be the trendsetter when it comes to social media platforms. The logical question is what will happen next? Is this the beginning of a global revolution that will involve all forms of social media? I think we have already seen some steps toward the future of social media with Snapchat’s introduction to their live global events, allowing anyone to feel as if they are truly at the Cannes Film Festival, spring breaking in Cancun, or going to work in Dubai. If platforms begin to think like Facebook and Snapchat, the world will feel smaller than ever. We will be able to get in contact with anyone in the world with just a device and our fingertips, which is amazing, but also kind of terrifying!
This is a huge step for Facebook, and for social media in general. I am excited to see the transition of social media into these developing countries and how it affects them in the coming years.