Courtesy of Facebook
In the digitized and online engulfed world that America has become, it’s at times hard to fathom that there are still developing countries that utilize yesterday’s technologies to access the internet. Facebook’s recent initiative is aimed at making their social media service more accessible for such emerging countries. A new app named Facebook Lite is the company’s latest offering that provides a low-bandwidth optimized version of Facebook. This allows people on 2G devices to enjoy a faster, albeit somewhat tamed, experience.
Facebook Lite is less than 1 megabyte in size making its initial download a blaze. Despite being small in size, Facebook has stated that ” It includes Facebook’s core experiences like News Feed, status updates, photos, notifications and more.” Additionally, the company claims that it will work effectively in any network condition; a bold claim. However, a few staples are missing such as streaming video and advanced location services for obvious reasons.
According to Facebook’s announcement, they are beginning to roll out the service beginning today across Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Europe spanning the coming weeks. The app is currently only available on Android devices as these devices dominate the market in such areas of the world. It is unfortunately not currently available in the U.S. Google Play store and Facebook has not announced whether they plans to release it in the future. (Sorry you Nebraskan T-Mobile users.) Have no fear, it seems Cnet has identified a way to manually install it. You can download it to your device here. (Proceed as your own risk.)
This isn’t Facebook’s first rodeo in the area of provider better services to developing countries. In mid-2013, Facebook announced Internet.org, an initiative to bring broadband internet connection to emerging countries. The company partnered with Ericsson, Mediatek, Opera, Samsung, Nokia, and Qualcomm in this initiative. Earlier this year, Facebook revealed their plans to use a new generation of drones to supply such internet connectivity to countries without an available reliable connection. All of these actions seem to validate Zuckerbergs statement when he said, “connectivity is a human right.”
When Facebook first launched Internet.org, there were only 2.7 billion people connected to the internet; Less than 38% of the world. Their goal was to bring that number up to 5 billion within 5 years, an ambitious goal considering that internet adoption was only growing at a rate of “less than 9% each year.” We have since grown to 3.2 billion internet users in 2 years since the inception of Internet.org. Facebook is going to have to pick up the pace if they want to hit their goal of 5 billion connected users by 2018.
Why is Facebook Lite so needed?
According to the Telecommunication Development Bureau, 95% of the world’s population has access to 2G internet while only 69% of the world has access to 3G coverage. That leaves a delta of 27% of the world’s population living in areas with only a 2G connections available. Additionally, in many of the areas with 3G available, it’s often prohibitively expensive causing many to look to 2G data is the solution. Facebook Lite should provide a better way for people to socially engage online without the load times inherent to using apps made for 4G on a 2G connection.
What are your thoughts on Facebook Lite? Let us know in the comments below.