Facebook has launched a “lite” version of its Messenger app to reach users in emerging markets where mobile internet connections are slow. The social networking site described the Lite app as a “slimmed down version of Messenger” in its blog post. The post also states that the app is designed for basic Android phones with low memory.

Facebook Messenger
Facebook Messenger app by Janitors on 2014-04-29 14:47:56

Same functionality as Facebook Messenger

Facebook’s Messenger Lite app rolls out to users in Malaysia, Tunisia, Venezuela and Kenya today. It will expand to other markets in the coming months. The social networking site did not say if the app is coming to iOS devices as well.

The app allows users to send photos, texts and links, but it will not do video calls. This announcement marks Facebook’s latest efforts to expand its reach in developing countries. In addition, the social media giant says the app is easy and fast to download with a size of less than 10MB.

In a blog post, Tom Mulcahy, engineering manager for Messenger Lite, wrote, “With Messenger Lite, more people can stay in contact, regardless of network conditions or storage limitations on their Android devices.”

Mulcahy added that Messenger Lite was made to give users a great Messenger experience, no matter what technology they have access to or use.

Targeting the “next billion” users in emerging markets

Facebook Lite is already available for people whose phones are too simple or old to run the full-fledged Facebook app. This app also lets users access certain websites that do not count against their monthly data plans. The social networking site has touted its campaign to connect the so-called “next billion” users in emerging markets; however, it has come under criticism for violating net neutrality by seeking to lock new users into its own services.

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.

In an interview, David Marcus, head of messaging products at Facebook, said the aim of Messenger is to be a “product for everyone, not only people who can afford a higher-end device and more expensive data plan.” Further, he called the web-based messaging experience on the social networking site a thing of the past and said that he cannot think of any other mobile messaging service that has a web version, according to ABC News.

In July, the tech giant announced in July that Messenger has more than a billion active users. WhatsApp, another app owned by the social media giant, reached the same milestone a few months later.

Photo by Janitors