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

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

  • Uber Lite is meant for entry-level smartphones and slow network connectivity.
  • The app was designed in India and will be developed by a team in the country.
  • While it’s starting with India, Uber may take the app to other countries as well.
After years of being in business in India, Uber finally has a dedicated engineering team in India. And one of the first things this team is doing is building a lighter version of the company's app. The app is designed in India but "made for the world", according to Uber.

That's not particularly new for the company. It has taken cues from the Indian market and brought them to other countries before as well. However, the Uber Lite app seems to have been specifically designed for the first time or basic users, of which India has no shortage. It’s meant for people who use entry-level smartphones and aren’t particularly tech savvy.

The app takes just about five megabytes of space on your phone and Uber is emphasising the fact that it's not a stripped down version of the main app. Rather, the company says it's a "reimagined" version of the Uber app.

The primary goal here seems to be the same as many others. Uber Lite is meant to work on slower connections and entry-level smartphones. Uber says the Lite app will help its AI (artificial intelligence) and ML (machine learning) algorithms learn more about how people use Uber, which, in turn, will help improve its overall service.

But that's not all. Uber already has a mobile website and a phone call service for booking cabs. With the Lite app, the company is adding yet another mode to make bookings easier. Essentially, Uber is trying to leave no stone unturned when it comes to acquiring users.

User acquisition

Uber isn't the top on-demand cab service in the country, but it has no shortage of users here. While the company isn't explicitly saying so, it seems like the Lite app is designed for a particular kind of user.

While Tier II, III markets are obviously within the Lite app's purview, the current set of features point to more. For instance, Uber Lite only allows cash payments right now, a highly used mode of payment in the country. Uber's Head of Product, Manik Gupta says other payment modes will come in future but it decided to start with cash because that is the target it wanted to go for.

So, Uber is not only targeting users who come from areas with slow connectivity and use basic phones, it's also trying to understand cash payments better. Theoretically, that could easily be done using the main app, but having a separate app for cash transactions could also provide more targeted information about these users.