Bloatware - a creeping problem

Bloatware - a creeping problem

Summary: Verizon loads phones to the gills with unneeded, unwanted and non-removable software.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Wi-Fi
30

I've subscribed to the services of many different suppliers of wireless communications and have used handsets from many different suppliers. At this moment, I'm using an HTC Thunderbolt on Verizon's network.

My early experiences with wireless service providers was fairly good, but dropped calls, little or no service available in a specific area and distorted conversations were an ever present potential problem.

As handsets evolved into powerful handheld computers another problem joined the list - bloatware. Bloatware is software pre-installed by the service provider before handing equipment over to its customers. On occasion that software is a welcome addition. Most of the time, in my experience, it is an unwelcome land grab of the customer's memory, network use and even external storage. Even worse, most of the time this unwanted, unneeded, and less-than-useful software can not be removed unless the owner voids his/her product warranty to root the phone and load different software.

I guess Verizon, AT&T Wireless, and other wireless suppliers have forgotten who purchased and owns the device. They act as if they still own it even though the customer purchased it with hard earned money.

The HTC Thunderbolt is a nice HTC Android device that came with the following software that I don't use, didn't want and can't remove:

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Verizon Backup Assistant (tied to a service offering I don't use)
  • Bitbop
  • Blockbuster
  • Friendstream
  • Let's Golf 2
  • Mobile Hotspot (a poor replacement for the native Android hotspot that is tied to charging the user again for the "unlimited" data plan they've already purchased)
  • Peep (a poor Twitter client)
  • Rhapsody (a music service)
  • Rock Band (a game)
  • TuneWiki (lord knows what this is)
  • V CAST Media
  • V CAST Music
  • V CAST Tones
  • V CAST Videos
  • VZ Navigator

What's really irritating is when updates to these items are made available. A notice of the updates is presented on the phone. If one ignores these updates long enough, Verizon has set up the phone to automatically download them.  Verizon, have you forgotten that you're making people pay for the network bandwidth used to download and update these unwanted, unneeded and unused pieces of software?

I, for one, want a refund and a way to remove this junk from my handset that won't also void my warranty.

Topics: Mobility, Wi-Fi

About

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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30 comments
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  • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

    :) You have only mentioned Verizon. The list is bigger you know... I also work in the IT industry and end up repairing all smart devices.
    Nate_K
  • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

    Not with the HTC Trophy. I think they had netflix preloaded, but its simple as pie to remove it for good. Not so much with the baked in Android, and I used to have the Incredible and it wasn't cool that you couldn't remove certain apps that you never used.
    OhTheHumanity
  • Wonder if all carriers are equal?

    I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy S2 on AT&T.
    It came with several AT&T offered services but the apps were loader apps.
    I had no problem removing them and AT&T did give me a reminder to visit AT&T if I wanted them in the future.

    On the other hand my son's Captivate has a number of AT&T apps that are loaded and while can be set to inactive, cannot be removed.
    rhonin
  • AT&T is terrible for this too

    My wife's Motorola Flipside came chock full o' crap that can't be removed. In fact, in the first year she owned it, she could only install 5 apps that *she* wanted because there was free memory. After the upgrade to Android 2.2 this summer, she could offload a *few* apps to the SD card, but the AT&T bloat lives on in the phone's main memory. It's inexcusable that *her* phone is more useful to AT&T than to her.
    bmgoodman
  • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

    While I would bet the Verizon apps were installed the majority of those apps like Blockbuster and the games are not, they are just links to the software in the market.

    I used to have a thunderbolt and while the connection was awesome, the phone was not as good as the Incredible.
    slickjim
  • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

    For some reason, an old expression comes to mind: You cannot have your cake, and eat it too! you do not want to pay full price for the phone, yet you complain about hose who are chipping in part of the money, which is the only way for you to get that phone, for the low price.
    Rick_Kl
    • Caveat

      @Rick_Kl

      I mostly agree, however Verizon doesn't give you a bloatware free version if you pay full price for the handset.

      Joey
      voyager529
      • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

        @voyager529 actually Verizon does sell one phone, without bloatware. That would be the dreaded iPhone. Apple is the only company that got the telcos to flinch. Not that the iPhone is the most expensive phone (nor is it the cheapest), but Apple controls what software is installed. As of iOS 5 both the AT&T, and erizon phones have the same software build.
        Rick_Kl
    • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

      @Rick_Kl I completely disagree, they make a lot of money off of the monthly service charge. I would guess that on a $50 plan, they are probably making about $40 profit per month, I would estimate the costs of the calls you make cost them about $5 (including all text and data you might use, so their profit get even higher with data plans) per month and the costs of overhead (billing, support, etc.) average out to about $5 per month.

      This is an educated guess based on what some other providers are charging for unlimited talk, text & web. Basically, the can get their costs down this low by setting it up where once the call hits the cell tower, it gets routed as a VOIP call. (Just for those wondering how their costs can be so low).

      So on an average handset where they subsidize approximately $250, it takes about 6 months for them to recover their expenses. Over the course of the average two year contract, they will make about $700 in profit on the phone.

      So, looking at this way, you can see that they clearly do not need bloatware on their phones to make some extra money.
      cmwade1977
  • Asurion + Cyanogenmod/Skyraider

    Asurion doesn't care if your phone is rooted or not. They've replaced my HardSPL'd, SIM Unlocked HTC Touch Pro2 after it fell off a roller coaster, and they cost $7 a month.

    The rooting process has gotten easier for most phone models. Does it suck that it's par for the course to have to root a brand new phone? yeah. But then again, Android is the Windows XP of mobile phone operating systems, and everyone with any level of tech knowledge over the past decade will agree that it typically took less time to reformat a new computer than it did to deal with all the gunk that came preinstalled.

    Joey
    voyager529
    • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

      @voyager529 unfortunately that was a fact of life. I also believe it was part of the reason Microsoft claimed to have such a large percent of the market. People with multiple licenses for Windows, where one license was a throw away. to legally do a clean install, you needed a non OEM copy of Windows. Which Microsoft was more than happy to sell you, hell they would love it if each person bought a new copy each month.
      Rick_Kl
  • That's why...

    I buy unbranded phones and slap the relevant SIM in. My htc Sensation didn't come with any pre-installed bloatware and I can put my T-Mobile, O2 or Vodafone SIM in.

    Also, don't forget, if you "bought" the phone on contract, you paid a subsidised price for the phone, it isn't techically "yours" until you have finished the contract term, or bought yourself out of the contract. ;-)
    wright_is
    • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

      @wright_is
      I would agree with your logic if there was a mechanism for removing the unwanted software upon satisfying the terms of the contract.
      bdowey
  • As long as you don't pay

    As long as you don't pay for your phone outright you really haven't much to complain about. Your getting allot of phones for almost free and getting them subsidized for 2 years. The only people who have the right to complain are those of us for pay full price for our phones.
    Stan57
    • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

      @Stan57
      Following this logic, others with a right to complain are those who have owned their phones beyond the original term of their 2-year contract.
      bdowey
    • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

      @Stan57 I disagree with your logic. If a person is paying full price for the handset, regardless whether it is all at once or over time, they, not the service provider own the phone. The individual should be able to turn off and remove unneeded software. Some of the things on my HTC Thunderbolt can't be turned off, constantly are using my expensive network bandwidth and even update themselves in spite of anything I try to do to prevent it.

      Verizon, AT&T or other service providers do not have the right to force software, services, updates or anything else that automatically uses the customer's dearly paid for communications.

      Dan K
      dkusnetzky
      • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

        @dkusnetzky

        Not true, the 2-year contract is rent-to-own, hence the early termination fees.
        aep528
  • Let's hope PC's don't start doing it

    So at least PC bloatware allows you to uninstall what you do not want. Not always cleanly I may add. But at least you can free up resources. I also agree that Verizon should at least allow some apps to be uninstalled. Lately as I am a Verizon customer and have been for a long time. I usually buy unlocked phones and many times they have a whole lot less crapware on them.
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
    • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

      @jscott418 PCs have done this for years, there is bloatware on virtually every shipping system out there. And now that they don't ship Windows Disks, just offering recovery disks that reinstall all of the bloatware, it makes it more difficult to reformat and remove it.
      cmwade1977
  • RE: Bloatware - a creaping problem

    Your Verizon list is pretty short. You ought to see the crapware that comes on an AT&T Captivate (Samsung Galaxy) that can't be deleted. Someone used the word dreaded about the iPhone's locked state. As much as I'd like to see them loosen up, I'm more comfortable with limits on what I can have than being required to have massive crapware that I can't get rid of.
    AES2