There was a short time when “lite” mobile apps were al the rage, marketed at emerging markets where both phone space and mobile data are at a premium. Those investments may now be paying off as users everywhere have become more reliant on their mobile devices and use up more space and data in the process. Given that situation, it’s rather baffling that Facebook has silently decided to take down its Instagram Lite app exactly at a time when some users might have been using it the most.
To be fair, Instagram Lite also came to Google Play Store just as silently two years ago. It was limited to a few markets like Kenya, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines where it did get a lot of use exactly because of its Lite nature. It turns out, those two years were just a very long beta test, which is grounds for Facebook now yanking the app, supposedly for something better.
The social networking giant confirmed to TechCrunch that it has officially removed the app despite its success in those regions. It didn’t really say anything but it’s largely believed that Facebook and Instagram will put a Lite app back in the app market, but not before improving it. What those improvements are, it didn’t say either.
Granted, Instagram Lite was quite true its name, offering only the basics like viewing feeds, posting images, and exploring. There is no support for videos or even direct messaging, something the Web version of Instagram has ironically just received.
Instagram Lite users will now be greeted by a message telling them to install the fuller Instagram app, which avid Instagram users in these markets will undoubtedly do despite how it breaks their accustomed workflows. It’s a bit unusual that Instagram would pull out an app if an update is in the works rather than waiting for that update to land first. Hopefully, the main Instagram app itself is en route to becoming lighter but the chances of that are pretty slim.