There are a few things that an app maker has to factor in if they are to be successful in most emerging markets, Kenya included. Thanks to the nature of the majority of the smartphones in use, the app has to be small. An 80-megabyte application won’t augur so well with many who don’t spend that much data in a given day in the first place or have that much space in their 8GB phones. The other thing is that the app has to be optimized to work well when there’s little or no network coverage.
Where network coverage is available in plenty, the costs are prohibitive and as such any data-intensive application is unlikely to get the reception or usage that its makers have in mind.
Check out the struggle to address such concerns locally through the Safaricom-led Swift Squad user sensitization drive.
Facebook seems to have a hang of this as evidenced by its persistence in constantly reviewing the experience users of its apps get. For its main service, Facebook, there’s the pared-down Facebook Lite app that is so popular. The last time I checked, it had netted over 200 million users. Facebook’s other app, Messenger, also has a low-bandwidth version. In fact, Kenya was one of the first five countries where the app rolled out first. Soon, Instagram will be following suit with its own enhanced offline features.
Google has a whole operating system focused on this besides its long history of optimizing its apps to work under such conditions.
It is against such a backdrop that LinkedIn started testing LinkedIn Lite, a pared-down version of its popular Android app, late last year.
According to the Economic Times of India, LinkedIn Lite is, “Designed to work on lower-end handsets and poor internet connections.”
According to LinkedIn, the app takes up just 1MB, loads fast (in just 5 seconds) and will work even when one is confined to a 2G network. All that while still managing to cram in signature LinkedIn features like the news feed, profile, one’s network, notification, chat/messaging etc. How about that?
LinkedIn Lite, currently available only in India, will be rolling out to several more countries (up to 60) over the next few weeks and months. Hopefully, Kenya, which has a huge youth population, just like India, that is in search of job opportunities, will be among them. When that happens, this marked slot on the Google Play Store will finally be useful.