Facebook sets its sights on developing markets, launches Facebook Lite

Facebook Lite

In an attempt to grow its already large user base past the 1-billion mark, Facebook is redoubling its efforts on the world’s emerging markets by launching a new, stripped down version of its Android app.

Taking a similar approach to Opera’s mini browser, Facebook Lite ditches many of the features that characterize the company’s current mobile offerings. It loads information quickly, uses little data and is able to work on almost any Android smartphone. It’s also only a 1MB download.

There are sacrifices, of course. In contrast to the main app, Facebook Lite does not pre-load high resolution photos. Other features like videos and the nearby friend locator are also disabled.

The company apparently spent more than a year working on the app. As mentioned before, one of Facebook’s main goals with the app was to create an experience that would work smoothly on 2G networks. There’s a good reason for this: according to TechCrunch, there are more 4-million smartphone users still on 2G networks.

The app is rolling out today in Asia, and in the coming months it will be released in Latin America, Africa and parts of Europe.