Let me set the stage up for those who don’t know much background. In 2005, Android, Inc. (a small company in Cali) was acquired by Google. Android, Inc. was a start-up whose business was in developing software for mobile phones. In 2007 Google helped fund the Open handset Alliance (OHA) which is a consortium of several technology companies whose purpose was to develop open standards for mobile devices. Motorola, Samsung, and T-Mobile and among these companies. These companies should all be first in line to make phones more open and free, right?
Yesterday’s post has already shown us that Motorola should really rework some of their business practices, but it also puts them in a precarious position in the OHA by going against what the OHA is exactly trying to stop, carrier and corporate lockdown of mobile devices. Some even think that because of the eFuse Moto should be asked to leave the OHA, and I’m not entirely sure that they’re wrong in asking this. If they are supposed to abide by the OHA terms, they should. No deviations.
Now for another punch in the OHA/Android face, T-Mobile and Verizon are now installing “junkware” in their new Android phones that cannot be removed in most circumstances. The LA Times blog is reporting that, “the Droid X comes loaded with several nonstandard applications for Google’s Android, most of which cannot be removed” and that T-Mobile’s new Samsung Vibrant is also loaded with some extra apps that cannot be removed. What kind of apps are installed? Here’s a few snips:
Among the [Droid X's] so-called junkware is a Blockbuster video app and a demo for an Electronic Arts game called Need for Speed: Shift….The EA racing game, which provides limited functionality and a large button on the introduction screen urging players to buy the full version, can be removed…
Skype, which is included with other Android handsets Verizon sells, is a permanent fixture, as is a utility called City ID. The latter program provides location information about phone numbers on the incoming call screen. But it works for only 15 days before asking users to pay $1.99 per month…
The T-Mobile Vibrant phone from Samsung, meanwhile, has four of these extra apps staring you in the face.
One is the movie “Avatar,” permanently loaded onto the device…Another is a live video channel called MobiTV — good for only 30 days. The third is a link to install an EA game called The Sims 3: Collector’s Edition. The last is an outdated version of Amazon’s Kindle app.
There’s also Slacker Radio, which cannot be used before providing an e-mail address, and a button leading to Gogo Inflight Internet’s website, which includes a one-month trial for Web surfing (only on plans that provide the service).
Try as you might, none of these apps can be uninstalled.
That is an awful lot of software to load onto a phone that runs an operating system that is supposed to be “free” and “open” for it’s users. The fact that most of them cannot be uninstalled is the most enraging part. I’m also sure that these apps take up a good deal of storage space.
Samsung, Motorola, Verizon, and T-Mobile are completely going against the principles of the OHA which they are all (with the exception of Verizon) a part of. But I’d probably blame the carries more because in the end, they are the one’s with final say on what is loaded on their devices.
So, should all of them be asked to leave the OHA? I’d say that if they continue this trend then yes. The OHA should give them an ultimatum to stop and they should take it or leave. If the OHA fails to even deliver on that then what is the point of the OHA? If you’re not going to stand by one of your most basic principles then you have failed.
While I don’t think this is worse than the eFuse in the Droid X, it certainly is something that needs to be resolved just as rapidly. Putting a few small applications on a phone specific to your company is not really a problem, not allowing your customers to remove them is.