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Facebook Lite launches for Android: emerging markets will rise
Facebook Lite launches for Android: emerging markets will rise

Android users everywhere take delight in the new release of Facebook Lite for Android. Any Android phone user will gladly tell you how much they hate the full Facebook app. Its slow, its enormous (I remember a friend telling me he’d seen elephants that take up less room – hah!) and it is a massive drain on expensive data.

There is simply not the access to wifi (much less good wifi) in developing nations that there is in somewhere like Silicon Valley. Since most emerging market mobile phone users are on a 2G system, full sized apps do not function well.

Sure, in America they may be fine with a clunky app but, as FB’s $19 billion takeover of whatsapp shows us, tech gurus like Zuckerberg are aiming at emerging markets. These markets, like India among others, contain billions of people waiting for your startup to deliver them apps made for them. Developing Android apps, iOS, and Windows apps for emerging markets is a win-win scenario: you get access to the world’s biggest market and it costs less money and time.

Most potential customers in emerging markets prefer pared-down mobile apps that work on 2G networks, will function on a lower end phone, and won’t burn up their date (though thanks to internet.org, many millions of people will have access to the web that they did not have before). FB learned from the success of whatsapp and Facebook Lite is a simpler version of the full FB app.

What Zuckerberg and Facebook Lite product manager Vijay Shankar realized was that people in emerging markets don’t care about watch videos on the go, nor do they need FB to tell them if their friends are nearby. What we all want is just to be able to join the social media world, without having it cost us an arm and a leg.

Bare Bones

Facebook Lite is designed to run wicked fast on anything from a 2G connection to a 4G connection. With lower resolution thumbnail pics (resolution increases if you enlarge image) and bare bones functionality, FB has created an app that will bring billions of people into their network.

And it’s not like this trend is going to stop anytime soon. America, the UK, and other countries with better internet access have an over saturated app market; conversely the rest of the world is just getting started.

Zuckerberg himself has laid out 3, 5 and 10 year business growth plans – and all involved increasing cross-platform technologies in emerging markets.

Smartphones are increasingly the main device people use for internet surfing. All the data points to this. More importantly, a smartphone is frequently the only personal internet-capable device that people in emerging markets have. By 2016, it is expected India will surpass the U.S. in mobile phone FB users. Within the next 5 years, trend watchers and tech giants like Ericsson expect that over 80% of all smartphone users will be coming out of the Asia Pacific.

Free Internet??

With numbers like that, no savvy businessman can turn away from these emerging markets. Clearly, the world is headed towards connectivity, and most of the connecting left are in developing nations. With free internet programs like Facebook’s internet.org (though some of Google and FB’s attempts at free internet do seem quite mental), more and more people will have access to the internet.

With that nice ‘free’ part attached, people in emerging markets will be able to use high end mobile apps – most for the first time. This is one of those moments in history when people 20 years from now will say “yea, that’s when it all changed.” Do you want to be one of those who saw it coming, or one of those who gets left in the dust?

Tips to Get Started

So, now that I’ve got you all excited for new emerging markets and upcoming possibilities, we should probably talk about how to jump in to this new potential app world.

1. As with all apps, do your research. Just because you’re a U.S. based company with a widely successful app, doesn’t mean it will be successful elsewhere. Talk to people who live in the areas you are targeting – and not just the affluent people. While affluent people tend to be early adopters of technology, they represent a small portion of the true market potential.

2. Use an app you’ve already developed, but decrease its functionality and don’t be sold on every detail. I see this being one of the hardest things to accept. App developers will want to utilize their existing resources (i.e. an already built app), but the low bandwidth of developing nations creates other needs. Don’t be afraid to cut out functions that aren’t necessary.

3. Find a good app developer with ties to emerging markets. Not only is having an app development firm on your side always a good thing to have, but having one that knows your market will be invaluable. If you’re a U.S. based startup, you probably don’t have a revenue stream set up to handle international marketing research. Find a local developer, and seek their advice.

Entrepreneurs & Startups let me introduce you to one such company named Software Developers India. Intelligent business experts and tech geeks who will help take your business a notch higher. We have multiple sales offices based in California, Melbourne and London plus a state of the art development office based in India. We can help you create a simple but useful app that functions well on low bandwidth markets and we can provide you with ideas on what works well in developing countries.

Please call us at 408.802.2885, or email us today. Let’s develop an app for you and tell the world you have arrived!

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