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With Facebook Lite, a step deeper into Twitter terrain

By Matthew Shaer / September 11, 2009

Facebook has rolled out a svelte, easy-to-use version of its Web site in an effort to snag entry-level users.

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This week, Facebook rolled out an optional interface for its popular website – a slimmed-down, streamlined, super-svelte offering dubbed Facebook Lite. According to a note posted on the site, "Facebook Lite is a faster, simpler way to keep in touch with your friends. If you like it, you may choose to use it instead of the regular Facebook." The functionality has already received plaudits from critics and bloggers.

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But who is Facebook targeting with this new system?

Well, for one, the company is after late-adopters and other folks still learning how to navigate the wild world of social networking. Facebook Lite is reassuringly simple: the clutter of Facebook proper has been replaced by a spartan wall, and oversized links leading to photos and profile information.

Posting comments to a friend's profile on Facebook Lite is exceptionally easy – not that it was exactly difficult to begin with – and the cascading links that pour down the side of a regular Facebook dashboard are gone.

Facebook Lite is also aimed to users with slow Internet connections – if you've ever tried to access a social network on an old computer with sluggish access rates, you know how positively infuriating that process can be.

"The only question to Facebook now is, why'd it take so long to, well, let there be Lite?" Chad Berndtson writes on Channel Web. "Why would Facebook wait on Lite when so many of its social networking competitors – including, yes, Twitter – are growing based on the no-frills ease-of-use of their platforms?"

This last question is of particular interest. After all, Facebook Lite does bear more than a passing resemblance to Twitter. Think about it: both Twitter and Facebook Lite rely on a spare design. Both are easy to update. Both are good platforms for small bursts of information.

As Paul McDougall of Information Week writes, "The truncated features could make Facebook a better fit for mobile devices, while some commentators have described the project as part of a plan to add a microblogging service that could eventually challenge reigning champ Twitter."

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Apple to Rhapsody: Welcome to the iPhone club

Apple approved the Rhapsody iPhone app, a streaming music subscription service with a $15 monthly fee. Last month, people wondered if the submitted Rhapsody app would pass the iTunes AppStore approval process, especially since the Google Voice app failed to make it through to the next approval round (and even sparked an investigation by the FCC).

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