Microsoft pulls a YouTube, launches Skype Lite for countries with poor connectivity


Weeks after YouTube released YouTube Go, a data lite version of YouTube more suited for geographies with poor connectivity, Microsoft also acknowledged the need for such a product, launching Skype Lite for people living in emerging markets. The company carried out a curtain raiser for it at their Future Decoded event here in India.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (centre) speaking at the Future Decoded event.

Only available for Android in India at the moment, the app is "Made For India", according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, as it is 13 MB in size and contains all the original offerings of Skype, namely video and voice calling, and messaging, but is optimised for those working with lower bandwidths like 2G on their phones.

It supports eight Indian languages, including Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu, offers support for reading and replying to SMS, and has other data optimisation quirks for users, like notifications on total mobile data being consumed. It further classifies the data usage into data and WiFi for the benefit of the user.

Skype Lite will also bring in optimisation in messaging by truncating the size of any photos, videos or other files shared while chatting, and even lets a user share multimedia files without downloading them to their device. Lastly, it will have a dark theme, to make it easy on the eyes for users at night.

At the event, Satya Nadella stated that Skype Lite was “built in India, for users in India,” thus teasing that India is on their list as a potential hot spot for digital services. Another feature in the pipeline is the integration of Aadhaar, to “enable Skype users to verify the identity of unknown callers in a variety of situations where identification verification is required, including job interviews and goods and property sales", Microsoft detailed in a blog post about the app.

Skype Lite will go live today in India, and can be downloaded here. It is still unclear when the app will hit the markets of other emerging economies.