I was definitely happy to see that Sprint will be making an effort to remove bloatware from its Android phones but I also think that the argument against preloaded apps and software can get a bit out of hand. As long as it can be uninstalled, I have no problem with a carrier preloading apps and software on phones.
Of course, the ability to uninstall is very key to this and I know that’s the main pain point but Sprint’s Fared Adib told Engadget, “… we’ve got to get rid of these preloaded apps on our devices. A lot of customers don’t want this.” I’m not quite sure about this.
While it’s not as important as it used to be with feature phones, preloaded apps generally get used more than ones users have to download themselves. Most smartphone users are adept at downloading new programs from the App Store or the newly redesigned Android Market but discoverability is still a major issue. That’s where I believe the carriers can truly add value by preloading apps.
Sure, people complain about the Nascar app on Sprint but if you’re a fan of that, having that on board would be awesome. I know that I would really appreciate an NBA League Pass app out of the gates for free. You also don’t hear many complaints about when Slacker Radio or the NFL app are preloaded on Verizon phones. It’s all about choosing quality apps to preload on the device and, of course, giving the user the option to delete them permanently.
I’m also sick of the trial apps being preloaded on my phone. I hate playing a golfing game or Need for Speed 17 for five minutes and then find out I have to buy the full thing to continue on. The carrier should just eat the cost to provide the full game/app or the game maker should provide it for free (or at a discount to the carrier) and monetize through things like in-app purchases.
While power users of Android may hate the notion of anybody getting in the way of a pure Google experience that they’re going to dramatically change anyways, I’d like to remind you that consumers may actually like preloaded apps a lot. An IGR study found that many customers used preloaded apps often and that these can even factor into the purchasing decision.
I’m sick of people acting like stock Android is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The user interface has come a long way but Google is still not the best mobile phone UI maker in the world, so let’s stop pretending it is. I’m not just talking about other platforms, as HTC and Samsung have been doing more interesting things with Android’s notification bar for years. Android is also getting its fair share of “bloatware” with each update too – Is anyone actually happy that Google Places is now part of the platform? Google+ will soon become inseparable from Android too.
Please don’t think I’m picking on Android because I’ve switched to an iPhone. Apple phones have bloatware too – I really don’t care about Newsstand or the standard Weather app but I can’t easily delete those. I think Microsoft actually has the best approach with its Windows Phone 7 platform because carriers can put whatever they want on it but the top few tiles have to remain consistent and any pre-installed app can be easily deleted.
So carriers, go ahead and preload my phone with apps but make sure these are high-quality programs and definitely let me delete them if I choose to.