Explainer: Uber launches Uber Lite app to boost growth in India

By Elton Gomes

The United States-based ride-hailing application Uber has announced a lighter application for its India market. Uber’s new app – Uber Lite – has been toned down from roughly 39 MB 5 MB, and is expected to work on Android phones across all networks. At just 5 MB, the app is simply the size of three selfies.

Manik Gupta, Head of Uber’s product, maps, and marketplace said the idea behind the development of the application was to attract users in markets where most of the phones have limited storage. In India, the app will initially be available in Delhi, Jaipur, and Hyderabad, and other cities will be able to avail the app soon.

Uber’s Indian market

Uber’s head of rider experience, Peter Deng told TechCrunch that a lighter app was the need of the hour, “The next hundreds of millions of riders for us are going to come from outside of the United States.” In fact, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has also highlighted the importance of India by stating that the country was “a very important market, not only in terms of our business today but where our business is going to be five or ten years from now.”

Uber Lite boasts of a 300-millisecond response time, which means users can hail a ride quicker. The app will function at the same speed on 2G networks. In addition, by only showing maps on request, it won’t consume excess data.

Uber Lite will retain the core functionality of the Uber app and will have many existing features like in-app support and the ability to share your trip with others. Uber Lite has been designed “to make booking rides easier and quicker in spotty connectivity and slower than average internet speeds, on basic Android phones, and for people with limited data plans through the following new features,” the company said in an official statement.

Why is this important

Amidst increasing competition from domestic players like Ola, Uber has been struggling to gain a foothold in the Indian market. Ola already has its lite app which is lesser than 1 MB and it also enjoys 45% of the taxi market in India. Uber currently has captured 35% of the market and with a lighter app in the market, Uber will look to overtake Ola in terms of popularity and taxi share.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius