Rounds, maker of a messaging app that lets users share HD quality video chat and live games with up to 12 contacts at a time, considers itself a lightweight app, as its size is around 10MB.

The company believes that since users often “struggle to cram” as much content as possible onto their 8GB or 16GB devices, lightweight mobile-first apps “are the way forward”.

Mobile World Live spoke to Rounds CEO and co-founder, Dany Fishel, about how developers can benefit from keeping their apps lightweight.

Why is it important that apps be lightweight?
While the importance of lightweight apps has generally been overlooked by the industry, Rounds has been able to draw some conclusions from experience with our own users.

Particularly on Android, we have observed that the lighter an application is, the more likely the user will be to download it.

When Rounds responded to users’ demand for a lighter version of our app, we saw an immediate increase in our app downloads and engagement. With all the same features and quality, our developers were able to reconfigure Rounds from 35MB to less than 10MB.

We have also seen that from a psychological perspective, users perceive lightweight social and communication apps as downloads they’d be more willing to take a gamble on.

Users consider downloading based on the app’s perceived “friendliness” – whether or not the app will drain battery or consume an excessive amount of data. Their conclusions on the friendliness of an app often leads to a decision to download and test it out.

How can app developers/marketers benefit from such apps?   
Marketers and developers must consider their users’ needs when creating an app. Users are becoming aware of the size of an app before installing it and are always looking for ways to get the most out of their smartphones.

In choosing an app, the speed of the download time makes a huge difference to the user – and therefore, to developers and marketers too. Especially when it comes to pleasing teenagers who demand instant gratification, a speedily downloading app buys tolerance – which is a crucial value in the onboarding process.

Developers who create lighter apps give marketers the ability to reach a larger audience of users, especially in emerging markets. That’s why it’s important to take geographical realities into consideration.

Often, data networks outside the US are slower and more costly when it comes to download rates.

There are places where too-heavy apps could actually prohibit users from downloading them, as a financial calculation or simply due to data plan limitations. Especially in international markets, this reinforces the fact that data usage for apps is a big issue and weighs in as a primary focus of importance.

What type of apps would a lightweight version work best for?
Any app that might be perceived by the user as heavy on battery consumption or data use are usually the ones that should be light.

What we should take out of the equation are entertainment apps and games, as people tend to expect those specific apps to be heavier. The market has adjusted to entertainment and gaming apps – users want high resolution and are willing to pay for it with data.

People expect a Star Wars game to have sophisticated high resolution graphics. When it comes to a video chat app like Rounds, users’ first priorities are the efficiency and quality of the video call, and everything else is secondary.