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12/16/2010
10:33 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Dear Wireless Network Operators: Stop The Bloatware!

Wireless network operators are using system updates to add unwanted software to smartphones.

Sprint is providing an update to the HTC EVO 4G right now. Owners of that device can manually seek out the update and have it pushed to their phone. They might want to take a look at the changelog first, however, because the system update adds a number of new applications that weren't there before.

Here's what the update does: It provides the latest versions of Telenav, the Sprint visual voicemail application, the Sprint TV application and the Sprint Zone application. That's fine, updates to existing apps I can live with. But the update also includes new software, the Kindle eReader, the Blockbuster app, a new 4G scanning widget and, worst of all, a new trial version of a game called NOVA.

Verizon Wireless pulled similar hijinks with recent updates to the Droid X and the Droid Incredible. On the Droid X, Verizon added its Madden NFL Football game, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, the My Verizon Mobile app, and a new data widget to the home screen.

It's bad enough that the carriers are loading bloatware on the phones before they ship, but sticking more on there with software updates is inexcusable.

The Madden NFL app that Verizon installed on the Droid X, for example, takes up 92Kb of storage on the phone's internal memory. That's not the worst, but the app is unremovable. It can't be deleted, uninstalled, or even moved to the microSD card. Same goes for the My Verizon Mobile application, which takes up a more egregious 1.21MB.

Smartphones have limited memory available to them. Increasing the number of base apps that can't be uninstalled eats into the allotment available to end users to install the apps that they really want. It also clutters up the phone's menus, can mess up a user's home screen appearance, and can lead to performance problems, depending on the system resources needed by the bloatware.

I am sure I am speaking for the majority of smartphone owners when I beseech the wireless network operators and handset makers to stop pre-loading bloatware, stop loading it after the fact, and for Pete's sake allow users to remove any and all unwanted software from their smartphones if they so desire.

It has to stop!

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