The Industry

Why Instagram Is Launching a “Lite” App That Takes Up Much Less Space on Phones

An Instagram employee displays the app during a media event in 2013.
An Instagram employee displays the app during a media event in 2013.
AFP/Getty Images

With no fanfare, a new Instagram app popped up in the Google Play app store on Wednesday: Instagram Lite, a stripped-down version of the Facebook-owned social app that’s geared toward users in developing countries. The new app already has more than 1,000 installs, according to the app store page.

The idea is similar to the “lite” version of the Facebook app: The company wants to find more users in more places, and that includes developing economies, where 42 percent of people in owned a smartphone last year, according to the Pew Research Center, compared to just 24 percent in 2013-14. But these markets come with some challenges for app makers, since users may have older phones with less storage space, or slower network connections, and may not be able to afford big data packages.

That’s where the Instagram Lite app comes in, which is a lot smaller than the flagship Instagram app—just 573 kilobytes, compared to 32 megabytes. It doesn’t have video or direct messaging. (The Google Play App Store page says those features are coming soon.) But it has everything else—users can post photos to their profiles and feeds, create stories and see posts in the Explore tab.

An Instagram spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that Instagram Lite started testing in Mexico this week, with plans to expand to more countries later this year. The spokesperson declined to say whether the app would feature ads.

In addition to Facebook Lite, which launched in 2015, Facebook also offers Messenger Lite, and Uber launched its own lite app just this month.

The Instagram Lite app comes after the Facebook subsidiary announced that it had hit 1 billion monthly active users.