Consumers fuming over Android smartphone bloatware

Posted on July 23, 2010


Hail to the Bloat!The new phrase ‘Bloatware’ causes consumer frustration on Android.

Fierce Mobile- Android smartphone users are voicing their displeasure over a growing number of preloaded third-party applications and trial software that cannot be deleted by consumers. Known as “bloatware” in PC parlance and a catch-all for non-essential software and media files bundled with hardware to boost revenue and introduce users to new services, the preloaded Android apps include services like mobile television, location-based search and games–according to Wired, specific examples include the new Samsung Vibrant, which ships with MobiTV, GoGo Flight and Electronic Arts’ The Sims 3, along with the Motorola Backflip (including location-based solution Where and Yellow Pages app YPMobile) and the HTC Evo (featuring Sprint TV and Sprint Football).

“It’s different from phone to phone and operator to operator,” said HTC spokesman Keith Nowak. “But in general, the apps are put there to meet the operator’s business and revenue needs.” According to a Samsung representative, the preloaded applications “highlight the key features and performance” of the Vibrant–operator partner T-Mobile USA adds the apps exist to showcase the phone’s processor and display.

Wired notes that the preloaded apps are integrated into Android devices in a manner that blocks users from removing the software short of jailbreaking the handset. A thread on the website details subscriber concerns over the trend. “It’s a throwback to the days of the feature phones,” said Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin. “Handset makers and carriers would bundle messaging and music clients with feature phones hoping to provide some differentiation. They are now trying that with smartphones.” In regards to the inability to delete the applications in question, Golvin said “I suspect that a lot of operators think consumers won’t notice or get to a point where they would want to get rid of them.”

The Android bloatware debate follows on the heels of AT&T’s (NYSE:T) decision to block non-market Android applications from devices like the Motorola Backflip and HTC Aria. “AT&T selected Android Market as the exclusive source for applications because it forces developers to be accountable for the apps they submit,” reads AT&T’s Android FAQ. “If the Android community has issues with an app, the app can be flagged and removed. This minimizes the risk of malicious apps harming customers and provides more protection to the customer’s private data stored on the phone.”

AT&T released the HTC Aria, its second Android smartphone, in June 2010–the device does not include the “Unknown Sources: Allow Install of Non-Market Applications” default option present on Android smartphones from rival U.S. operators, a precedent established with the March introduction of AT&T’s first Android device, the Motorola Backflip. Android proponents tout installation of non-market software and beta applications as one of the open source platform’s biggest advantages over Apple’s rival iPhone.