Instagram rolls out ‘Lite’ version for international audiences
Instagram has its sights set
on its next 1 billion users—but not all have fast internet connections or large data packages.
To entice those users and cater to audiences around the world, the platform
recently launched a scaled-down version of its app, called Instagram Lite,
in the Google Play Store. Though Instagram didn’t announce the version, a
company spokesman confirmed the launch to TechCrunch.
The release follows Instagram’s
revamped mobile website
that launched last month, also designed for the developing world.
… When asked for comment, an Instagram spokesperson confirmed that
Instagram Lite began testing in Mexico this week, and provided this
statement: “We are testing a new version of Instagram for Android that
takes up less space on your device, uses less data, and starts faster.” The
company wouldn’t say whether ads would be included. Later this year the app
will expand to more countries, and get messaging and video posting
The Verge reported:
… You can post photos and share and view stories on the app, but some
features are currently unavailable, including posting videos and direct
messaging between users. It’s not clear if messaging will ever be available
in Instagram Lite, or if the company will leave it out in order to push
people towards its
standalone messaging app, Direct.
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Instagram Lite will also not carry the long-form video content that it’s
offering users of its original app through IGTV, which it debuted on June 20.
However, the move highlight’s Instagram’s focus on gaining users with
differing mobile capabilities. It’s a decision that highlights parent
company Facebook’s reliance on Instagram to attract users outside the
United States, especially as teenagers nationally have been leaving
Facebook in favor of mobile apps.
Launching a lightweight app has become standard practice for companies
trying to expand beyond developed markets like Europe and the US. Facebook
launched lightweight versions of its main Facebook app and
Messenger, while Uber has done the same with Uber Lite.
In much of the developing world, mobile users frequently have older devices
with less storage space, slower network connections, or smaller data plans.
These elements often make
run very slowly, or force the users to delete other items that take up
storage space in order to run the app. Instagram Lite is intended to
address these issues, allowing these users to access the app more easily.
Facebook has previously targeted user growth in the developing world with
the launch of its Facebook Lite app in 2015, which similarly makes the
social network accessible to people with older phones, less storage or
data, and poor connection.
The success of Facebook Lite – it has more than 200 million users worldwide
– led to the roll-out of Messenger Lite in April 2018.
Instagram’s move might push competitors such as Snapchat to follow suit.
For now, the app has a lengthy head start, considering its rapid user
growth and recent valuation of $100 billion.
… Snapchat neglected international markets to focus on US teens, leaving
the door open for Instagram and WhatsApp’s clones of Snapchat Stories to
grab big user bases in countries like India and Brazil.
With this new growth tool in its belt, Instagram may see even swifter
adoption in emerging markets. It could score potentially score evenue
straight from Lite if ads are included, then as phones and networks
improve, hope to shift users onto the full-fidelity version. Now, eyes will
be on Snapchat to see if it builds its own Lite app. Otherwise it risks
continuing to slip further behind the Instagram juggernaut.
User acquisition rates on Instagram are unparalleled, not just within the
Facebook ecosystem, but across the social media industry. Instagram
launched Instagram Stories
a little less than 2 years ago. Back then, the Instagram user base was
around 500 million users. In two years since, Instagram has managed to
garner another 500 million users. None of its contemporaries have managed
to acquire half a billion users within two years.
It’s no wonder then that Facebook is going aggressive Instagram, and is now
pitching it against Google’s YouTube as well, with the
launch of the IGTV app.