Cellphone: the bloatware era

Posted by & filed under Technology.

I have this feeling that mobile phone ecosystem evolution is going through the same stages as desktops went through. Part where we went from hourly access charges to unlimited and, to a certain degree, back, is pretty much the same (Comcast now officially has a 250Gb data cap for residential accounts). Now the mobile phone is struggling through the era of bloat-crap-ware.

Practically every cell phone, be it smart or not-so-smart phone, has tons of crap-ware installed. Depending on the carrier (I’m looking at you, AT&T) some items will automatically add themselves to your bill, if you managed to click in the wrong spot and didn’t say “no, I don’t want another $10 a month expense for a chance of using ATT navigation instead of free alternatives” or “music identification costs money here too”.

However, the “free” side of bloatware is annoying too. Sprint puts a number of packages on the phone that simply can’t be deleted. I don’t care for Nascar or Sprint TV or Sprint Navigation. I care even less for Amazon MP3 Store App that also can’t be removed. Most of those applications are like pests, keep on restarting, hog resources, and do something that other apps do better. Oh, and you can’t uninstall them.

Reminds you of something, doesn’t it?
Those old desktops, that would came with ton of crap-ware that’d show you weather forecast, connect you to AOL for 45 days of free internet, show some crappy menu app, that only existed to show you a crappy menu. Why? I don’t understand it.

I guess carriers still blindly trust marketing “specialists” that say if you force your crap on user’s phones, they will, inevitably, love you. Wrong. Users will be annoyed, but they will adapt. How many people prefer Sprint Navigation over Google Navigation? How many people are dumb enough not be able to find Amazon MP3 Store if they actually want to buy something from that Amazon store? Users aren’t that stupid, they’re perfectly capable of selecting something they want.
But no, it’s installed and you can’t remove it. Even PC manufacturers where each extra crapware desktop icon meant $5-$10 paid by the manufacturers of the crapware, eventually went to the new model, where you can remove antivirus or other weirdo programs.
But carriers also develop that software. How much money did they pour into these crappy little gadgets that do the same thing other apps already do? Why do they continue to spend money developing “almost the same, but slightly worse” versions? I wish they’d realize that it may be more economical to just not blindly force everyone to live along with their apps. Offer a $5 “clean your mobile” service, if you’re that greedy — I just don’t want your app that I never use to hog my resources.

Alas, it took desktop manufacturers quite a while to realize, it’s not that unprofitable to offer users a choice. Will probably take cell phone companies 5-10 years (even though latest developments at Verizon are a bit encouraging).

Leave a Reply