Mobile network speed and reliability, as well as low-end hardware, is a daily problem for billions of users in emerging countries around the world. To address this demography of mobile internet users, a number of major mobile app developers have come up with trimmed down versions of their apps. These lite apps run faster on slower and less reliable network connections. And now, users in the more advanced mobile markets are embracing these lite mobile apps.
Examples Of Popular Lite Apps
Here are some of the most popular lite apps:
- LinkedIn Lite
- Facebook Lite
- Shazam Lite
- Twitter Lite (Twitter is reported to be working on a native lite app, as the current lite app is a mobile web version)
- Skype Lite
- Messenger Lite
- YouTube Go
Other popular lite apps include Opera Mini (which was the fore-runner of today’s crop of lite apps) and UC Web Mini.
Facebook’s Experiment With Advanced Mobile Markets
Let’s call it an experiment for lack of a better word. In April 2017, Facebook decided to make the Messenger Lite app available to over 150 countries. Note that initially the app was meant for just emerging markets. But Facebook opened it up to more markets, including some advanced ones. Guess what happened? Uptake of the app went up.
Who would have thought that countries where data is cheap and fast would find such a stripped down app appealing? But they did. And now, Facebook has made the Messenger Lite app available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Ireland. This is the point where the twist in the plot happens.
Users In Advanced Mobile Markets
Apparently, a lot more people than just those in emerging markets appreciate lite apps. Will we see more lite apps being thrown open to everybody everywhere? If past trends are anything to go by, the answer is a yes.
It isn’t a stretch to say that many mobile users will take speed and reliability over jam-packed features. users everywhere. It is human nature.
Not Just Apps; Operating Systems Too
This doesn’t end with just apps either. What of operating systems? Android has been a resource hog since forever. Despite this, it has marched on unrelentingly, but it seems to be hitting its limits recently in terms of adoption. Android smartphone adoption has slowed down considerably. The smartphone market is near saturated and adoption in emerging markets hasn’t gone as expected.
Google seems to have realised that Android OS in its current form is unable to meet the needs of the people who are still stuck on feature phones. This set of people make up over 50% of the global mobile market.
Why is Android stuck here? It requires too much resources. These feature phone users do not have the luxury of resource-intensive apps and devices. As such, recently, Google took a step to create a trimmed down version of Android OS optimised for slow networks and low specs to target the next billions of mobile users.
As far back as 2015, I had affirmed, along with others, that the future belonged to the smartphone operating system that was optimised to run smoothly on low-end hardware and be miserly on mobile data.
To Infinity And Beyond
More app developers are seeing the lite and developing lite versions of their apps. We also see that users everywhere want resource-efficient apps and software. This trend is no surprise: humanity has been clamouring for lean and trim for years: more efficient vehicles and more power efficient homes and offices. Why not more efficient apps, operating systems, and smartphones?
While we do not know exactly what form the apps, operating systems and smart devices of the future will take. But one thing is clear: they all will be highly resource efficient. Resource efficiency is the future of technology.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.