The social networking giant first launched Messenger Lite for Android users back in 2016 to serve those on slower internet connections in developing markets such as Kenya, Tunisia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela. Over the course of the following year, Messenger Lite landed in dozens more emerging markets around the world before arriving in the U.S. and Europe back in October.
Though Messenger Lite didn’t have voice calls in its original guise, it has since gained that feature, so the next logical step was to add video chats to the mix. Moreover, Facebook previously revealed that 17 billion video chats were made through the main Messenger app in 2017 — double the number in 2016 — so it’s clear there’s a big appetite for “face to face” conversations.
Video chats do consume more data and therefore may not appeal to those with a limited mobile internet plan who are not near a Wi-Fi connection. But given that Messenger Lite can now be used by anyone — anywhere in the world — this latest update could well be the final piece needed to lure people away from the core Messenger app and onto its lightweight counterpart.
Facebook has also offered a stripped-down version of the main Facebook client for a number of years, starting with the simplified Facebook Lite web interface back in 2009 and including a dedicated Facebook Lite Android app launched a few years ago.
By offering a more “basic” experience, Facebook stands a greater chance of attracting users with a broader range of handsets and internet plans.