Google Retires Web Light Webpage Transcoding

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Google revealed they are retiring the seven year old Web Light service that enhanced webpages for gadgets on slow mobile phones and mobile connections.

The official Google developer page documentation for Web Light Google and the associated user representative (googleweblight) are both retired.

Google Web Light

Presented in 2015, the purpose of the Web Light service was to make more of the web accessible to users in countries with slow mobile connections and gadgets.

The service worked by optimizing web pages so that downloading them utilized 80% less information, leading to a four-fold increase in speed over the slower 2G mobile networks.

According to Google the service in a 50% increase in traffic to web pages.

Web Light formerly worked on Chrome and Android browsers and only when Google discovered a slow connection. The functionality did not activate for desktop devices or tablets, only for mobile phones on sluggish connections.

Google Analytics still worked in the Web Light enhanced pages.

In regards to ad serving, Web Light enhanced pages supported Sovrn, Zedo, AdSense, and Google Publisher Tags.

So in theory Web Light need to not have impacted advertisement profits however rather increased them considering that transcoded webpages got as much as 50% more traffic at the time.

The service was first introduced in Indonesia and after that to India.

The now deleted paperwork described the functionality of Web Light:

“Google reveals faster, lighter pages to individuals browsing on sluggish mobile customers.

To do this, we transcode (transform) web pages on the fly into a variation optimized for slow clients, so that these pages pack faster while conserving information.

This technology is called Web Light.

Web Light pages protect a majority of the appropriate material and offer a link for users to see the initial page. “

Web Light No Longer Required

Seven years later on, the availability of affordable but powerful mobile devices and an enhancement in mobile connection speeds made the need of the service no longer needed.

According to Statista, 99% of mobile data usage in India throughout 2021 happened over 4G devices.

In 2015 there were only 47 million devices that were 4G capable compared to 650 million in 2021.

The Google developer documentation for Web Light was removed and a note was added to Google’s User Agent documentation to interact that the Web Light user representative is retired.

Google’s statement stated:

“Removed the Web Light paperwork and retired the Web Light user agent.

We introduced Web Light to allow us to serve faster, lighter pages to people browsing on entry-level devices.

While this feature has worked as designated and made it possible for wider access to the richness of the web, increased cost of more effective mobile phones has diminished the requirement for such functionality.

We remain committed to progressing and fine-tuning the Search experience to satisfy the changing requirements of our users.”

Featured image by SMM Panel/Asier Romero