Facebook’s data-conserving version of Messenger is no longer just for developing nations with slow networks. Now the Messenger Lite Android app is expanding to the US. Canada, UK, and Ireland after previously being available in over 100 mostly-developing countries. Messenger Lite packs most of the critical features of the app, yet skips things like Messenger Day and selfie lenses in that can drain data. There’s still no plan for an iOS version, though.
Previously, Messenger Lite was primarily for users in areas with weak bandwidth so the app would run faster. But now its expansion in to Facebook’s top developed world markets makes it a tool for penny-pinching users like teenagers who want to ignore burning away their pricey megabytes yet still stay in touch.
â€œWeâ€™re excited to bring Messenger Lite to Android users in 4 new markets in addition to Canada, Ireland, the UK and the US” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “Messenger Lite is a slimmed-down version of Messenger in that offers the core features of the app, while giving everyone the possibility to stay connected to their friends and family, regardless of device or quality of Internet connectivity.â€�
Facebook 1st started Messenger Lite in October 2016 in five countries before its near global expansion in April when it hit 200 million users. The- new rollout could assist Facebook attract more teens to Messenger, both traditional and Lite. That’s 'cause if downloading Lite makes them respond to more messages more quickly, it thereby encourages friends to stick with Messenger instead of defaulting back to SMS or iMessage, or straying to Snapchat.
The developing world has proven a challenge for Snapchat. Its video-heavy app doesn’t perform well in low-bandwidth conditions. And where there are friends who can’t use an app, people end up switching to one they can. For Messenger to keep expanding beyond its existing 1.3 billion users, it needs to do everything it can to be maximally accessible.
Though it may be harder to monetize Messenger Lite users, it’s worth it for Facebook since chat is the center of the mobile use case. If it can keep people on Messenger, it’s more likely to retain them in the rest of its family of apps.