Thursday, April 13, 2017

Twitter Targets Emerging Markets with Twitter Lite

According to GSMA Intelligence, as of 2016, 82% of all smart phone users around the globe are still on a 3G or slower network. This means that the vast majority of the world has to wait a very long time for a Twitter feed to load, if they can even load it at all. In addition, the vast amount of data that the average Twitter feed blows through can be frustrating to users who have data limits or are charged for overages. The third hiccup in the Twitter trifecta is the massive amount of storage that Twitter demands, using 100 MG of storage or more. These three factors can make Twitter an unobtainable feature for many users around the world with slower or older phones.

To combat this, Twitter recently announced the unveiling of Twitter Lite. Targeting emerging markets, Twitter promises that their lighter version will load more quickly on slower connections as well as taking up less than 1MB of storage space on storage light devices. Twitter has also promised that it will launch up to 30% faster, while still giving users access to the most important features such as their personal timeline, tweets, DM's, trends, profiles, notifications as well as media uploads. In addition, Twitter has announced a data saving feature that will give users a thumbnail preview of content, which allows them to decide if they want to download the full version or not, further saving them in data usage.

Twitter is by far not the only social media giant to offer light versions of their sites for mobile use, but unlike Facebook and others that use native apps, Twitter's lite site is still browser based. The fact that it is browser based rather than a native app is what allows them to keep their storage usage to less than 1MB. Use with Android phones offers offline access, notifications and alerts and possibly a even a home screen app sometime in the future.

The Twitter Lite service seems to be a move primarily aimed at garnering the massive Indian market, where Twitter has struggled in the past. One of many growing markets, by June of 2017, India's online presence is set to grow to roughly 465 million people, while estimates suggest that less than 20% of that number are on Twitter. A new partnership with Vodaphone - India's largest network - might help Twitter reach at least 177 million of the network's customer base.

David Milberg is a financial analyst from NYC.

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