Face­book launches ‘lite’ ver­sion of Mes­sen­ger app

Jamaica Gleaner - - BUSINESS - – AP

FACE­BOOK IS launch­ing a ‘lite’ ver­sion of it Mes­sen­ger chat app. It is aimed at emerg­ing mar­kets, where many peo­ple use older phones that don’t have enough room to store or abil­ity to run the fullfea­tured ap­pli­ca­tion due to slower In­ter­net speeds or other is­sues.

Mes­sen­ger Lite will be avail­able on An­droid de­vices in Kenya, Tu­nisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Venezuela be­gin­ning on Mon­day. The com­pany did not say when it would be avail­able in other coun­tries or whether it is also com­ing to Apple de­vices – al­though An­droid is far more pop­u­lar in emerg­ing mar­kets than even older iPhones.

There is al­ready a ‘Face­book Lite’ avail­able for peo­ple whose phones are too old or sim­ple to run the full-fledged Face­book. Mes­sen­ger Lite is a sim­i­larly slimmed-down ver­sion of Mes­sen­ger. It will let peo­ple send text, pho­tos and links but won’t do video calls, for ex­am­ple.

The move comes as the so­cial-me­dia gi­ant moves to force users to adopt Mes­sen­ger if they want to send each other di­rect mes­sages, in­stead of the main Face­book site or app. It is work­ing: more than one bil­lion peo­ple use Mes­sen­ger each month.

For a while, there was a loop­hole — you could log in to Face­book’s mo­bile web­site to ac­cess mes­sages. But Face­book is end­ing this op­tion, too, so Mes­sen­ger will be peo­ple’s only op­tion.

David Mar­cus, head of mes­sag­ing prod­ucts at Face­book Inc, said in an in­ter­view that Mes­sen­ger’s goal is to be a “prod­uct for ev­ery­one, not only peo­ple who can af­ford a higher-end de­vice and more ex­pen­sive data plan”.

‘REM­NANT OF THE PAST’

He called the web-based mes­sag­ing ex­pe­ri­ence on Face­book a “rem­nant of the past and added that he “can’t think of any other mo­bile mes­sag­ing ser­vice that has a web ver­sion”.

Face­book, he said, de­cided on the five ini­tial coun­tries to launch Mes­sen­ger Lite in be­cause there are a lot of Mes­sen­ger users in th­ese coun­tries on older de­vices.

What­sApp, the mes­sag­ing app owned by Face­book but op­er­ated as a sep­a­rate en­tity, is also pop­u­lar in emerg­ing mar­kets. Mar­cus said peo­ple use the apps for dif­fer­ent rea­sons and they are not in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion. What­sApp also has more than one bil­lion users, and many peo­ple use both ser­vices.

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