Facebook’s Messenger Lite Android Mobile App Launches First In Kenya
Kenya, together with Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela are just a handful of countries where Facebook’s Messenger Lite for Android is being launched today. The standalone Messenger Lite for Android is a slimmed down version of Messenger that offers the core features of Messenger for markets like Kenya with a slower average Internet speed and a prevalence of older Android smartphones. Messenger Lite enables users to quickly and easily send text, photos and links to anyone using Messenger or Messenger Lite.
This move by Facebook is interesting in that we all know that WhatsApp is hugely popular in Kenya as one of the leading Instant Messaging mobile apps which is also owned by Facebook. However, given that Facebook as a social media platform has close to 6 million users in Kenya, this is a prescient move in that Facebook can extend Messenger Lite to users on entry-level and older Android smartphones that form the bulk of smartphones in the marketplace. Indeed, recent research from Google’s Consumer Barometer 2016 edition noted that Kenya now has 44% smartphone users as a percentage of the overall mobile device users. This means that the Messenger Lite launch is a no-brainer for Kenya.
According to Facebook, as of this writing, more than a billion people around the world access Messenger every month from a range of mobile devices on networks of various speeds and reliability. With Messenger Lite, more people can stay in contact, regardless of network conditions or storage limitations on their Android devices. Messenger Lite was built to give people a great Messenger experience, no matter what technology they use or have access to. Messenger Lite is under 10MB, so it is fast to install and quick to start up. It includes Messenger’s core experiences such as messaging, sending and receiving photos, links, and receiving stickers.
Messenger Lite is being released over a year since the Facebook Lite Android mobile app became widely available globally which I wrote about here. Facebook Lite, like Messenger Lite was developed to cater for markets where older and lower-end Android smartphones are in the majority and therefore are not as capable in handling the latest and full versions of mobile apps. Given that Facebook is growing like crazy in markets in Kenya and Africa in general, it stands to reason that they have created these lower-end versions of their mobile apps to serve consumers with a great but somewhat watered down mobile app experience.