Back in 2016, Meta (then known as Facebook) realized that its Facebook Messenger app was too bloated, especially for users in emerging markets. It ate away at phone storage and required a decent internet connection. So, the company launched Messenger Lite, a stripped-down version of the Facebook chat app that required less than 10MB of storage and could operate on slow 2G networks. Now, the Messenger Lite app is shutting down.
Messenger Lite now warns users that they must “use Messenger to keep chatting.” Meta confirms to TechCrunch that the Android app will fully shut down on September 17th, though the Facebook Lite app (which has some Messenger capabilities) will remain. Google’s Play Store no longer offers Messenger Lite, and the app was removed from Apple’s App Store in 2020. (Android users who previously used Messenger Lite can redownload the app from the Play Store. But even if you have Messenger Lite on your phone, it will stop working this September.)
Realistically speaking, Messenger Lite only enjoyed middling popularity in the United States. This app was part of a wider trend within the tech industry—smartphones and social media were quickly penetrating new markets, such as India. These markets had unique economic needs and limited internet infrastructure, so they required affordable smartphones and lightweight apps. One year after Messenger Lite launched, Google introduced its stripped-down Android Go platform, which accelerated smartphone adoption globally.
Lightweight apps are less of a necessity these days. But it’s still a shame to see the death of Messenger Lite. This app allowed you to enjoy the core functionality of Messenger—chatting with friends or family—and nothing more. Messenger Lite didn’t have a messy, lumbering, convoluted interface. It was simple, and it wasn’t stuffed with unnecessary features (though video call support was added in 2018). It also didn’t beg users to buy one of Meta’s VR headsets or smart displays.
Note that Meta has pruned a lot of Messenger services this year. It pulled Facebook Messenger from the Apple Watch in May, and it recently announced that SMS support is leaving Messenger. But there’s also some good news. Facebook Messenger will finally offer full end-to-end encryption by 2024, ensuring a more private and secure experience for all users.
This isn’t the first time we’ve sung the praises of Messenger Lite, though it’s probably the last time. For a trip down memory lane, check out our 2020 writeup of the Messenger Lite app.
Source: Meta via TechCrunch