Uber doubles down, sheds weight to appeal to India

Same features in one slimmed-down version. Source: Shutterstock.

HAVING EXITED both China (to DiDi) and Southeast Asia (to Grab), Uber is now doubling down to appeal to one of the only places in Asia where it’s still functioning – India.

To do so, Uber is shedding some weight.

Locals in India will be the first people in the world to have the luxury of using the smaller, uncomplicated version of the ride-hailing app, Uber Lite. And it really is light.

To put this into perspective, Uber’s regular app is 180MB in size whereas Uber Lite is five megabytes.

Source: Uber.

As of December 2017, the number of mobile internet users in India stood at 456 million and it’s estimated to touch 478 million by June 2018. However, despite the large online market and attractive data plans, the country still lacks in providing higher quality connections largely due to poor infrastructure and overcrowding.

This means slower downloads and streaming, which in turn affects how some apps function. Such as the regular Uber app.

Currently available in Delhi, Hyderabad, and Jaipur, Uber plans to roll the app out to more places in India and also other countries later this year.

“We continue to see exponential growth outside of the US, and are thinking a lot about building for the next hundreds of millions of riders who we hope will choose Uber to get around,” Uber Head of Product for Emerging Markets Shirish Andhare wrote in a blog post.

Source: Uber.

Here are some quick facts about Uber Lite:

  • At just five megabytes, the app takes up the space of just three photos.
  • The app has a 300-millisecond response time.
  • It has all the support and safety features that the regular Uber app has.
  • If a network connection or GPS location tracker is slow, Uber Lite will show a selection of popular pickup locations.
  • Users will also be able to tap popular destinations instead of manually typing them out.
  • Opting out of showing the map will switch to showing a progress bar and ETAs instead.
  • For now, the app is cash only.
  • It’s only available on Android phones, the larger cell phone market.

Other features to come include the ability for riders to choose their preferred language for the app during sign up and request a ride even when they are offline.