Chinese crack down on 'money-sucker' Androids
Stealthy stealing from customers to be stamped on
The Chinese government is to crack down on "money sucking" mobiles: Android-based handsets that subsidise themselves by stealing from the customer's account.
The crackdown aims to involve network operators, target retailers and ensure that selling handsets featuring pre-installed Trojans is explicitly illegal, according to the Google translation.
The idea is to set up a central unit to manage complaints, though it seems the scam has been going on long enough to build up considerable momentum.
The handsets concerned are sold cheaply, and generally unbranded, though some bear forged logos. Once they go into use the Android-based handsets start quietly sending text messages, or making a silent call or two. The transactions only incur a fee of about around 20 pence a time, in the hope the user will never notice, while the miscreant collects the termination fee or other premium charge.
The amounts are small, but the idea is to collect it over a long period, enabling the handset to be sold very cheaply and thus feeding a virtuous circle that benefits everyone - except the poor sap who thought he was getting a cheap Android handset.
"I think the software industry lacks a better business model, they can only make these knock-off and money-sucking software in order to survive," said Zhao Wei, CEO of Chinese security company Knownsec, according to PC World. "This is fast becoming an industry in itself."
Manufacturers and network operators have a long history of preinstalling applications which they hope will rake in additional cash, much to the annoyance of users. Hiding them from the user is an obvious evolution of that idea, though hopefully a step too far for the bigger brands at least. ®
Don't tell Vodafone, this'll be the next incarnation of their 360 crapware.
And don't forget...
You can root the Chinese phones to fix them. Good luck fixing that antenna problem...
"a step too far for the bigger brands"
You think so? The same brands that presented me, straight-faced, with a $7,000 bill for three days light data use in Iceland this spring, as if that was an honest business practice and a fair contract? I wouldn't bet on it.
Apple gets you upfront ...
by selling a phone that doesn't meet spec, has the unique Grip of Death and cuts off all the time. At least they've fixed up the problem with the iP4CDMA - the antenna redesign is an admission of Lemon 4 GSM deficiencies.
Chinese knock-offs only defraud you a little bit at a time.
Buy your own handset...
From a trusted source. Better yet wipe it and install an open source distro. It is more than your wallet, soon your phone will be your whole identity. It is too valuable to put in the hands of your carrier.