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Facebook Targets Emerging Markets with Launch of Instagram Lite


Instagram Lite is a less data-intensive, smaller Android-only version of Facebook’s popular application and is going live in 170 countries as part of the social media giant’s push into emerging markets.

Instagram Lite was developed in Facebook’s Tel Aviv offices (in collaboration with the New York-based team) and is designed to provide people living in rural and remote communities access to the “high-quality” Instagram experience found in the main app without taking up much space on a device (just 2 megabytes) and using minimal data.

Instagram says that the launch of this app arrives “not a moment too soon” as Facebook says that the app has become a “lifeline for many to connect with loved ones or find a moment of inspiration” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The app has been in development since at least 2018 with a limited release that was quietly pulled last year. At the time, the app launched in India which Facebook notes as a key market for growth.

This time, the app is launching with broad, multi-country support and with most of the familiar features: all the basic editing options, the ability to add stickers, create and view Stories, and the Explore and IGTV discovery algorithms are all in place as well. It is also coming with specific language support in order to properly serve those 170 countries.

via Facebook

However, shaving down the 30MB full application to just 2MB did result in some things getting cut. Instagram Lite leaves out many graphics, all advertising, and won’t let you create Reels (though they can still be viewed). Dark mode, shopping, and end-to-end encryption have also been left by the wayside. Instagram also says that a Lite version made for iOS is not in the works.

That’s likely ok, however, as the targetted emerging markets use predominantly Android devices and not the top-of-the-line ones at that.

“Our teams build these lightweight versions of our apps for people with low connectivity or limited data plans because our basic premise is to leave no one behind,” Tzach Hadar, Director of Product Management at Facebook Tel Aviv, says. “We wanted the Instagram experience to remain fast, high-quality, and reliable, irrespective of the device, platform, and network people are on.”

via Facebook

Instagram Lite is available on the Google Play store starting today in 170 countries and Facebook says a global launch for the app is coming soon.

(via Tech Crunch)

Image credits: Header image licensed via Deposit Photos.