The rise of Lite apps: Why lightweight mobile apps are growing in popularity

Lite apps are the best route for companies to reach the billions of people who don?t have 4G and the latest iPhone.

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Thanks to the relentless juggernaut of progress (or maybe just Moore’s Law) our mobile phones get better every year. You’d be hard pressed to really notice it, however, as mobile applications continue to grow at an equivalent pace: the size of the top 10 iOS apps have grown by 1,000% since 2013. On top of that, companies are looking to new data and memory-hungry applications around Voice and Augmented/Virtual Reality. But elsewhere in the world, things are very different.

With the odd local exception, smartphones are now outselling featurephones globally, and are getting cheaper; it’s quite possible to buy devices for less than a meal in a restaurant but these low-budget offerings are often poor in performance.

And coverage in regions such as Africa and South America is sparse, and even in countries such as India where there is coverage, speeds are often well below what you’d expect in more mature markets. Whether by drones, balloons, satellites, or good old fashioned base stations, companies such as Facebook and Google are slowly but continually looking to new ways to increase the level and quality of coverage in such regions.

But for now, challenges around connectivity and hardware limitations make enjoying the kind of mobile experience you enjoy on the way to work out of reach for the majority of people in the world. So what can companies do to make their services actually usable for the billions of people who don’t have the latest iPhone in a 4G-connected metropolis?

The rise of Lite apps

The answer is Lite apps: stripped back, lightweight versions of their originals more suited to the limited performance, memory, and connectivity requirements of emerging markets. These apps take up less than a few MB of memory and are optimised for areas with 3G or even 2G connections. While they all share similar traits, there are different types of Lite apps: Bare-bones versions of mobile apps; scaled down trial versions of apps; and low-code enterprise apps with single use cases.

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