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Posts Tagged ‘Facebook Lite’

My last post about Facebook Lite was more about how close it takes Facebook to Twitter.This post talks about the another most striking feature of Facebook Lite – the absence of applications and quizzes. While it certainly makes the page look less cluttered and clean, and significantly reduces the page-weight (hence making it ‘Lite’), this is a significant change in user-experience over Facebook.

Applications, quizzes and games have been a key differentiator for Facebook over other social networks (read Orkut) and were among the key reasons for its stupendous rise in popularity across the world. Official Facebook worldwide statistics put the number of active applications on Facebook at 350,000; and every month more than 70% of Facebook users engage with platform applications. This application platform has attracted more than one million developers and entrepreneurs over 180 countries. It would be interesting to see how these 1 million developers of Facebook applications react to Facebook Lite.

When it comes to Facebook usage in India, a quick look at the Indian traffic data for Facebook applications on Vizisense shows that different applications residing on Facebook apps server are accessed by 2.9 million Indian unique users per month, which is a sizable chunk (36.61%) of the 7.91 million unique users per month base of Facebook in India. Also it is a known fact that Facebook has seen more traction and early adoption among the more evolved internet users in India. It has significantly higher following among the high-income and more-educated users who are expected to have access to high speed internet connections; and also are more evolved and regular internet users to understand and appreciate these Facebook applications. Facebook usage among income-group of more than Rs. 15 lakhs is 1.62 times national average, and that among PhD/Doctorate is 1.38 times the national average. Facebook has been a welcome substitute for people who had got bored with Orkut and also irritated by the spamming, privacy concerns and fake profiles over it. Check the screen-shot of Vizisense data below.

Facebook Demographics - Income and Education

Facebook Demographics - Income and Education

This user-experience over Facebook Lite (with no applications) will not be a new thing. Those who access Facebook over its mobile site (m.facebook.com) get to see status updates, photos, external links, events from friends, but no applications. Facebook Lite will be extending this user-experience over web, of course with a much cleaner and easier page-design. Official Facebook statistics say that Facebook Mobile has over 65 million active users worldwide and that these mobile users are 50% more active than those over web. Assuming that more activity means more page-views, in India however numbers seems to be telling a different story.

Unique Users/month Page Views/month Page-views per user per month
Facebook India (overall) 7.91 million 774 million 97.85
Facebook Mobile India 0.028 million 0.783 million 26.25
Source: For Facebook India (overall) – http://vizisense.com/sites/facebook.com;
For Facebook Mobile India – http://vizisense.com/sites/m.facebook.com;
Vizisense data for month of August ’09.

Above table clearly shows that Facebook usage over mobile is yet to pick up in India and engagement levels are dismally small as compared to overall Facebook; and my guess is that absence of applications is one of the key reasons for this.

In light of this data, absence of applications over Facebook Lite page does not seem to be the best step forward for Facebook in India, one of the only 2 countries (other being US) where Facebook is testing its Facebook Lite page. There seems to be more to this move than what is meeting the eyes, and better and faster service to users with slower internet connections certainly does not look like the end-objective of Facebook Lite.

Having said that, only time will tell if this new lighter Facebook Lite page which downloads quickly on slower internet connections – but with no applications – will change the above data and demographics for Facebook in India. If it’s succeeds, it would be interesting to see whom does it dethrone – Orkut or Twitter :).

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Facebook does not seem to get over of its Twitter-mania (or phobia).

First they made an unsuccessful attempt to acquire Twitter for $500 million, then they re-designed the site to make the content more sharable and put more stress on “What’s on your mind?” status messages, made sharing external links easier; and now we have the new feature on Facebook which allows user to tag their friends (or groups or fan-pages) with a Twitter-like @ symbol in their status updates. The @<username> identity of Twitter users is fast becoming a part of standard online coordinate of netizens. This @<username> has been the popular way of replying to tweets and linking to profile pages over Twitter, and it works exactly the same on Facebook as well.

@User Tagging on Facebook

@User Tagging on Facebook

Also, last week Facebook started testing in US and India it’s much talked lighter version named as “Facebook Lite” – a sleek, clean and lighter version of Facebook. Although Facebook officially says Facebook Lite is for users with slower internet connections, and NOT a competition for Twitter, one look at Facebook Lite page tells you the entire story. Here are the screen-shots:

Facebook Lite Screen Shot

Facebook Lite Screen Shot

Facebook Lite Screen Shot

Facebook Lite Screen Shot

The “What’s on your mind?” status update box makes way for a still bigger and simpler “Write” status update box. Prominently missing are all the applications and quizzes. The page reminds users of the earlier days of Facebook when all the quizzes and other application updates would not clutter your Facebook home-page. Stress is clearly more on status updates and wall-posts; and though not explicitly but Facebook seems to be trying to drive Twitter-like status updates and conversations through this Lite page. It would be interesting to see how these users will react to Facebook Lite with no applications and quizzes; and how heavy this Lite page becomes if ever Facebook decides to put applications on it.

Is Facebook really trying to woo users with slower internet connections, or is this another of Facebook’s attempts to get deeper in Twitter’s domain – What do you think?

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