Facebook Lite App Launches in Eight Countries

A new stand-alone app from Facebook emerged in the Google Play store, Facebook Lite, aimed at bringing the Facebook experience to lower-end Android devices in several emerging markets

FacebookLite650A new stand-alone application from Facebook emerged in the Google Play store — Facebook Lite — aimed at bringing the Facebook experience to lower-end Android devices in several emerging markets.

If the name sounds familiar, Facebook launched a simplified version of its website in 2009 under the same name, but it shut down that version of Facebook Lite in April 2010.

The social network confirmed to CNBC that Facebook Lite is available in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria, Nepal, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, and TechCrunch reported that the app requires just 252 kilobytes of storage, compared with 25 megabytes for the Facebook flagship app, and it is designed to work on 2G and other poor-quality connections.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook Lite was based on Snaptu, the social network’s client for feature phones, but it also includes native Android features such as push notifications and integration with the cameras on devices.

IHS senior mobile analyst Jack Kent told CNBC:

Facebook is well-penetrated in Western markets, but if you look at the growth in the markets it is targeting, there’s real opportunity to grow its user base.

Facebook’s strategy has always been about growing users then monetizing later. Facebook Lite will help build an audience and gather user data and serve advertising strategy in those markets later.

At the time of this post, Facebook Lite had been downloaded more than 10,000 times, with an average review rating of 4.6 stars out of five.

Readers: Is the launch of Facebook Lite a smart move by Facebook?

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.