Most smartphoners don't give a flip about apps
Bloatware or otherwise
Apple has over 250K offerings in its iTunes App Store, and the Android Market around 80K — but a new survey has shown that only 12.4 per cent of handset users cite the number of available apps as an influence on their decision of which phone to buy.
What's more, a large percentage of smartphone users couldn't give a fig as to whether or not their handsets come preloaded with
bloatware junkware crapware additional free and trial apps installed by service providers.
The survey of 2,000 users, conducted by the self-described "market strategy consultancy" iGR, discovered that for 58 per cent of handset buyers, "their purchase was in no way based on apps, preloaded or in a store."
In other words, a majority of users purchase mobile phones primarily because — mirabile dictu — they want to make phone calls.
While apps — preinstalled or purchased — may not be a factor in buying decisions, 52 per cent said "I like the preinstalled/preloaded applications," and 31 per cent agreed with the statement "I do not perceive the need for any other applications in addition to what was pre-installed on my phone."
What's more, 80 per cent of the respondents simply ignore unwanted preinstalled apps, whether they're bothered by them or not. Apparently, those users are undaunted by the growing trend for Android-phone service providers to stuff their Googly handsets with bloatware.
One wag on DroidForum is not among that 80 per cent. In a thread entitled "For the love of the gods someone find a way to kill the bloatware," a moderator using the handle "tp76" suggested that the handset in question be renamed the Bloatorola Droid 2.
The survey, however, has what The Reg considers a damaging flaw: when discussing pre-loaded apps, it doesn't distinguish between apps provided by the phone manufacturer — think music-player and maps apps — and service provider–supplied add-ons.
But although it would be interesting to know how those unconcerned 80 per cent distinguish between useful and unwanted apps, we doubt that distinction is important to them. As the survey notes, "For the average consumer, including those with smartphones, pre-loading applications does not appear to harm or damage the image of the operator or handset OEM."
All-in-all, it seems, apps aren't that big a deal to most handset buyers — most users neither pick a phone based on its app collection, nor care if their phone comes preloaded with commercial crapware.
After all, as the survey notes, "Only 5 percent of respondents to the consumer survey indicated that they had 'jail-broken' or 'unlocked' their cellular phone to gain control of the phone's contents."
iGR identifies jailbreakers as "early adopters and more technically savvy consumers," adding: "While this group of users can be very vocal, they do not represent the majority of the market."
It also notes that the unlocked Google Nexus One was "not a sales success," and that its failure "further illustrates that the true demand for unlocked handsets is lower than many believe and relegated almost entirely to a technically savvy audience."
Translation: expect the rising tide of junkware to continue rising — even though most users don't care about apps. ®
That's not a flaw, it's a feature
"[W]hen discussing pre-loaded apps, it doesn't distinguish between apps provided by the phone manufacturer — think music-player and maps apps — and service provider–supplied add-ons."
Users can't tell the difference. Any data from a survey asking them to try to distinguish between the two would be useless.
Expensive fat-fingered mistakes
What griped my ass about my Droid was the Verizon voice mail thing that tried to get me to sign up for an extra $20/mo voicemail service every time I tapped it by mistake. I have no idea what the difference was between the service and the voicemail I already had.
I rooted the phone just to get rid of that damned app.
I wouldn't mind the bloatware quite so much if it wasn't impossible to delete.
"even though most users don't care about apps"
You worded that backwards. It's "expect the rising tide of junkware to continue rising — BECAUSE most users don't care about apps".
Most users will make do with what is preloaded on their handset, and even if they don't use your preloaded apps they will not be upset by them. Ergo, if you want to push your apps, preload craploads of them on the handset, you can't lose.
In other words, you can just put your apps in a store and reach 12.4 % of the market (and 12.4 demanding % at that, who will sling massive amounts of turd your way if you do anything remotely wrong).
Or you can preload your apps and reach 87.6% of the market (100% minus the aforementioned 12.4%, assuming they will all go get something else from the store just to piss you off). And they will be quiet, docile consumers ready to take whatever you feel like giving them (you in the back, stop murmuring "Mac users").
If I had apps to push and no morals I know which way I'd go.
'Most smartphoners don't give a flip about apps'
You might get that impression if you just glance at the original article, and don't realise that it covers all kinds of phones, not just smartphones. Or you might give tha impression if you want to spin it a particular way. But if you read the survey report it says the exact opposite:
'For smartphone users, it would be reasonable to expect that the app stores would be more important in the purchase decision than preloaded applications. And, indeed, about 80 percent of the smartphone users said that the applications in the app store were a purchase factor. However, more than two thirds said the pre-installed apps also contributed to the purchase decision.'
So smartphone users like apps, downloaded or pre-installed.
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Most people have no clue why they're buying a laptop or PC. To them it's just another appliance like a microwave oven. They press the right buttons and out comes heated up leftovers of last night's dinner or popcorn. They have no idea what the other buttons do nor do they care. These people buy smartphones because when it's time to renew their contract a fast-talking salesman shows them a phone shinier than their current phone and it has facebook. Sold!!
Smartphones are really nothing more than the merger of a PDA (and GPS unit in some cases) and cell phone. I agree that the most important part of any cell phone is phone calls and anything additional is just fluff....Since you do carry this thing with you all the time however it is nice to have additional functionality like being able to view the entire NYC subway map in PDF to plot my destination, viewing Word files received in email and replying with comments from any location, browsing news sites such as El Reg when waiting in line at Motor Vehicle Services, checking sports scores when I can't watch the game, playing games or watching Xvids during those long nights waiting for updates during network changes.
In summary most users don't give a flip about apps because they don't know why they're buying a smartphone in the first place other than it's new and shiny.