Tech Transformers

Twitter launches a ‘Lite’ mobile web version of its app as it hunts for growth in the emerging markets


Twitter launched a less data-intensive version of its service for the emerging markets on Thursday where internet connections can be patchy, in a bid to tap into a new user base as the social media firm struggles for growth.

The service is called Twitter Lite and can only be accessed via a mobile web browser like Google Chrome and takes up less than 1 megabyte on your device. The company said it optimized it for speed to give it a 30 percent faster launch time than the standard app and quicker navigation.

Users will be able to get key Twitter features including the timeline, tweets, direct messages, profiles, media uploads and notifications. Using Google Chrome, users can also get push notifications like with the app and an icon can be added to the home screen to launch Twitter Lite quickly.


There is also a data saver mode which allows a user to preview images and videos before choosing to fully download them, with the aim of reducing data usage.

Twitter has been struggling to grow its user base and monetize its platform, but success in the emerging markets could unlock a massive user base.

By 2020, there will be 5.7 billion smartphone connections, up from 3.8 billion at the end of last year, according to mobile industry body GSMA. Developing markets will account for nine out of 10 new mobile subscribers in the years up to 2020, GSMA said, with India and China set to drive the growth. While 4G technology is set to rise over the next few years, there will still be many countries and regions where slower 2G and 3G connections dominate. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 88 percent of mobile connections are expected to be either 2G or 3G, while in the Middle East and North Africa region, this number is around 82 percent, GSMA forecasts show.

A screenshot showing Twitter Lite's data saving capabilities.

The dominant mobile operating system is also Google's Android in the emerging markets, so focusing on building out features for the Chrome web browser could also be a key move.

Twitter said in India it has partnered with Vodafone, which has over 200 million subscribers, to promote Twitter Lite to their customers as a way to get live sports updates on the Indian Premier League cricket matches.

"We are working hard to bring more exciting updates to Twitter Lite for people worldwide and to develop more partnerships in emerging markets to make it useful," Twitter said in a blog post.