Amazon, Flipkart and Ola are among a set of digital giants betting on lightweight versions of their mobile apps to take their business to millions of customers in India’s suburban and small towns, overcoming patchy mobile internet connectivity and sluggish data speeds. This is as per a report in the Economic Times.
Cab hailing service Ola said deployment of Ola Lite — which weighs only 1 MB and loads easily even at 2G speeds — helped the company grow its business in tier 2 and 3 towns without compromising on the booking experience.
“It makes sense for app developers to invest in creating dedicated light versions of their platform,” Peter Boyland, analyst at UK speed tester OpenSignal has been quoted in the report, pointing at India’s exploding mobile internet and smartphone penetration and lower speed mobile networks in the subcontinent.
Creating lighter versions is often simple, Boyland said, “As it does not require a complete redesigning of the app, but merely a lowering of the resolution on the graphics or video content, or simplifying the navigation”.
Online marketplace Amazon India said more than 65% of its orders and a majority of new customer acquisitions “now come from tier 2 and below geographies”, largely propelled by the launch of its 2 MB lightweight mobile app Micron. Its bigger rival Flipkart said its lighter app variant Flipkart Lite was instrumental in solving access problems for consumers in areas with poor mobile network coverage.
An Amazon India spokeswoman said Micron was an India- centric innovation. “India has witnessed mobile adoption on a huge scale but a large percentage of customers still use entry level smartphones with low data capacities. Micron was developed and launched to “address their unique needs and enhance their shopping experience.”
Amar Nagaram, vice president (consumer shopping experience) at Flipkart, said Flipkart Lite has proved effective in solving technology problems in areas with spotty network coverage as “it has fast and easy navigation and works on 2G and in the offline mode too”.
An Ola spokesperson said the launch of Ola Lite had “increased the company’s ride bookings from tier 2 and 3 towns by high double-digits”. It has enabled the company to serve “anyone experiencing low speeds, or has phone memory issues with low processing power, especially in small towns where connectivity and infrastructure challenges continue to persist”, the spokesperson said.
Uber launched its Uber Lite App in India during June 2018.Uber Lite is like Uber, but smaller and less razzle-dazzle-y. At 5 MB (about the size of two photos) and with 300-millisecond response times.
OpenSignal’s Boyland said there is a strong case for designing lighter app variants since India’s network speeds are way below the world average. “An app that might have no trouble operating on a European or East Asian network may not work so well on an Indian network where speeds are typically below the global average,” he said.
- Flipkart, Ola, Uber bet on lighter Apps to overcome challenges of spotty 3G/4G connectivity and poor data speeds in India’s small towns.
- LITE Apps weigh a fraction of their heavier native versions.
- The load easily at 2G speeds.
- Boost shopping experience for users with entry level smartphones.
- 85% of traffic is through mobile devices, with 65% of orders stem from Tier 2 and even smaller towns as per Amazon India.
- Deployment of LITE App has increased Ola ride from Tier 2 & 3 towns.
An earlier report by ET has cited an Open-Signal report saying average 4G LTE data speeds in India have remained static for more than a year – at about 6.1mbps – which is almost a third of the global average of about 17 mbps, making it among the slowest countries on this metric.
US data speed tester Ookla too has ranked India 109th in its list of 124 nations on overall mobile internet speeds, with an average download speed of 9.12 mbps, way below the global average of 23.54 mbps.