Google and Firefox join the bandwagon of light-weight apps aimed at emerging markets like India

Google and Firefox join the bandwagon of light-weight apps aimed at emerging markets like India
Firefox 'Lite' app launch in India and available on the Google Play StoreBusiness Insider India

  • Tech companies are launching 'lite' versions of their apps to bridge the gap between internet penetration and internet speeds in emerging markets like India.
  • 'Chrome Lite Pages' and 'Firefox Lite' are two of the most recent 'lite' features to enter the Indian market.
  • The problem of slow internet speeds due to network congestion isn't a problem that's specific to India but other populous countries around the world as well.
Latching onto bandwagon of 'lite' apps being introduced into the market, Google and Firefox launched the light versions of their mobile web browsers on Wednesday in India.

While internet penetration may be increasing in the country, internet speeds growing at a much slower rate — 'lite' apps are a way for companies to cater to users who don't necessarily receive the best internet connectivity.

"We use built-in optimisations and Google servers to improve page loading. These optimisations are only applied when the network's effective connection type is '2G' or 'slow-2G' or when Chrome estimates the page load will take more than five seconds."

Ben Greenstein, Lite Pages Technical Lead and Nancy Gao, Product Manager, Chrome on the Chromium Blog

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But, why 'lite' apps?

While there's much a hub about the potential of the online Indian market, the internet speeds in the country till compare poorly to the rest of the world.


Even with 4G connectivity in India the sheer number of people coming online leads to congestion. In fact, this problem isn't specific to India but is prevalent in other countries with high populations as well, including the US.

The 'Firefox Lite' browser is only 4MB to download — less than 10% the size of other browsers. 'Chrome Lite Pages', on the other hand, is more of a built-in feature of the original Chrome browser. The app is still 54MB to download, but Chrome optimizes an HTTPS page and only the URL is shared with Google.

It should be noted that Google already has a 'Data Saver' feature in Chrome that the company claims reduces data usage to upto 90%, helping pages load twice as fast.

All of Google's sites — including YouTube, Gmail, Play Movies, News and Google Search — cumulatively garnered 28 million unique visitors from India across desktop and mobile according to a Comscore report from January. Google's Chrome web browser already has a head start with 63% of the browser market share in India.

The introduction of 'lite' apps in emerging markets like India is about capturing the 627 million users that are expected to be online in India by the end of 2019 according to a Kantar IBM Report.

And, tech companies aren't only looking at browsers that looking to bridge the gap between internet speeds and internet penetration. Gaming giants are also launching a 'lite' versions of their game — like the Tencent-backed PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) launched a 'lite' version of their game in February that takes 10 time less space than the original game.

Even TikTok, a social media platform that's recently garnered popularity in India, has a 'lite' version of its app in the Play Store.

See also:
Facebook Has A New App For Emerging Markets Called 'Facebook Lite'

Uber Lite is a sub-5MB app designed in India, but meant for the world

MobiKwik launches a 'lite' app for seamless transactions, even on basic connection