Starting Nov. 16, Facebook extends its Instant Articles feature to Android devices in India. Up until now, the service was available only on American and European iPhones.
Instant Articles embeds the content from five local publishers to Android users' news feed, so that they may read the articles faster and in better quality. The fresh and sleek content also includes listenable audio captions, maps and auto-play videos.
According to two voices from the social media company, the first five publishers that will contribute to Facebook India's feed are: The Indian Express, India Today, Hindustan Times, Aaj Tak and The Quint. More content producers are in talks with Facebook for next year.
Andy Mitchell, director for news and global media partnerships at Facebook, stated that the varied publishing ecosystem is a challenge for his company and that everyone in his team is "excited" to see how the public and media will react to the launch.
The presence of Instant Articles started in the U.S. with nine publications and the number extended to 20 in the meantime. Two of them - Spiegel and Bild - are German, while the rest are British or American: BuzzFeed, BBC News, NBC, National Geographic, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The New York Times and others.
It makes sense for the biggest social media company in the world to focus on the Indian market. 130 million Facebook users are in the country, and most of them use affordable Android devices. Until India catches up in terms of iPhone ownership, launching the service for cheaper devices is the best possible strategy for Facebook.
"India [...] is a heavy Android user market. Besides, Android is designed to be fast," said Michael Reckhow, Facebook's product manager for Instant Articles, as cited by Livemint. He went on to add that the optimized Android service will make reading a speedy and pleasant experience.
Reports indicate that there is an area where Instant Articles and Facebook still need to work things out. It seems that due to the social network's advertising policy, some publishers find it hard to pitch ads together with the Instant Articles content. This means less revenue for them, and Facebook is reportedly looking into new advertising approaches to fix that.
"We at Facebook are really excited to be rolling out Instant Articles in India on Monday," Mitchell pointed out.