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Most smartphoners don't give a flip about apps

Bloatware or otherwise

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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. ®

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