Amazon has quietly launched an Android web browser app for emerging markets, where access to mobile data and high-speed connectivity is more limited. The browser has the rather generic name of: “Internet: fast, lite and private” on Google Play, and promises to be “lighter than the competition.”
The app first appeared on the Play Store in March, and has fewer than 1,000 downloads, according to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower.
It’s only available to users in India for the time being, and is supported on devices running Android 5.0 or higher.
Like most “lite” apps, the new browser is a small download — it’s less than 2 MB in size. That’s much smaller than other browsers, including Chrome (21MB), Edge (54.5MB), Firefox (19.9MB) and Opera (14.7MB), according to an analysis by appFigures.
The browser’s Google Play description also notes that it’s “private,” as it doesn’t ask for extra permissions or collect private data like other browsers do. This seems to indicate that it’s meant to be something of a competitor to other private mobile browsers, like Firefox, which blocks website trackers.
The browser additionally supports Private tabs, so you can browse without saving visits to your history, plus other features like tab previews, an automatic full-screen mode and integrated news reader of sorts.
In fact, the news reading experience is another telling indication that the browser is only meant for Indian users. The app’s description notes the browser homepage is designed to keep you up-to-date with news, cricket and entertainment from top sources. Yep, cricket — the most popular sport in India.
And finally, the “feedback” email on Google Play points to Amazon India, which indicates it was built by that team.
In addition to the new browser, Amazon also offers a Kindle Lite app in India.
The company is not alone in building lightweight mobile apps for emerging markets.
Facebook also offers “lite” versions of its apps, like Facebook Lite and Messenger Lite, to reach users with limited connectivity and access to data. Google has also rolled out a suite of lightweight mobile apps under the “Go” branding. Some of these, like Gmail Go, only come pre-installed on select devices. Others, meanwhile, are available through Google Play for anyone to download, like YouTube Go, Files Go, Google Go, Google Maps and Google Assistant Go.
It is interesting, however, that Amazon didn’t adopt a similar strategy by offering a “lite” version of its existing Silk browser, but has instead built something new.
And if its goal is to offer an alternative to Silk on the Fire tablets it sells in India, it’s odd that the browser isn’t yet available in the Amazon Appstore in India.
Amazon has not yet returned a request for comment about the new app.