Facebook is enacting 2G Tuesdays, a voluntary scheme where for an hour on a Tuesday morning its developers’ apps are throttled to 2G data speeds.
The initiative forces employees to use Facebook apps like Messenger and — well, Facebook — on a much slower connection than they enjoy stateside.
Facebook’s engineering director Tom Alison tells Business Insider the difference was jarring at first. “It definitely tested my patience — it felt like parts of the product were just broken.” He also says engineers will “see the places that we need to improve our product, but they’re also going to see the places where we have made a lot of progress.”
The program doesn’t last all day, and is opt-in. If Facebook employees choose to give 2G a shot, it’s only for the first hour or so they’re logged in.
It’s a smart move for Facebook, which also has its internet.org program to help bring connectivity to more of the world. Even with a connection, the chances emerging markets like rural India will see LTE anytime soon are very slim.
The idea is that by being forced to experience what consumers in developing markets experience when using Facebook, developers will better understand the problems they are trying to solve in these markets.
Marco Veremis, CEO at digital content specialists Upstream looks at why this is good news, but it is only the first step in the right direction to getting consumers in these markets to engage with the content being provided.
“It is positive to see Facebook actively encourage developers to put themselves in the shoes of consumers in developing markets. The ‘2G Tuesdays’ initiative will undoubtedly prompt improvements in the Facebook experience for consumers who do not have the luxury of high speed mobile internet access.
“Lite versions of apps and tailored content delivery are a crucial step towards interacting with consumers in developing markets. But at the same time, if the content being delivered is not relevant then getting consumers to use the service repeatedly is going to be difficult. Making sure content is adapted to the culture of each target market is the basis for long-term engagement. Using local languages is also an easy way to make content more relevant and appealing to consumers.
“What is also important to consider is the rise of content subscriptions. According to a Pyramid research report, 80% of content subscriptions are projected to come from developing markets by 2019. This is because subscriptions lower the cost of entry for accessing content and gives purchasing power to the consumer. This means that the content provided has to be worth what consumers are willing to pay for it,” Veremis concluded.