While Android as a platform has taken giant strides since its tentative first steps almost a decade ago, one of the biggest problems plaguing the open-sourced operating system has been the inordinate amount of bloatware on phones, installed by OEMs not just by themselves, but also at the behest of carriers. Now it seems as though British carrier Vodafone is looking to crack the whip on the tedious practice of shoving in redundant software in devices thereby reducing user-accessible storage and often, slowing them down.
Writing on the official Vodafone blog, the senior marketing director of Motorola, Mr. Marcus Frost, wrote, “We believe it’s crucial to be as near to stock Android as possible. We haven’t adapted Android Lollipop at all, really – it’s still a very pure Android experience. The reason for that is that leaving Android as is allows the phone to be uncluttered and to be really silky smooth to use. Other manufacturers add bloatware or customizations that don’t really add anything to the experience, and that often means that the phone will end up slowing down over time”. While the post is actually by a Motorola executive, seeing as it has been posted on Vodafone’s official blog, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that the statement alludes to a tacit understanding between Vodafone and its OEM partners about the urgent need to drastically reduce bloat on smartphones on its network.
Reports say that rather than follow the current trend of trying to differentiate their products by installing excessive bloatware, Vodafone wants manufacturers to stand out by actually doing something useful – make phones with better hardware, which would actually go a long way in improving user experience. Normally, OEMs try to lock-in users with supposed “software features” which most users either don’t care, or are actually annoyed about. With margins on carrier-locked phones getting smaller by the year, it literally pays to include software from publishers who pay OEMs to pre-load their software on retail devices. Carriers too jump in on the act and virtually force the hands of OEMs to install “features” such as Vodafone Live, Orange Signature and T-Mobile MyFaves etc. when most people wouldn’t even touch these apps for the entire duration of their ownership of these devices.
With consumers increasingly voicing their disapproval over the amount of pre-loaded bloat, carriers are, for the most part, relenting in their pursuit of ‘customizing’ smartphones. OEMs however, seem not to be not taking the hint, as they’ve elevated the practice of installing bloatware to an art form. But if the aforementioned Motorola post on the Vodafone blog is anything to go by, Vodafone seems intent to fight back. Hopefully for the sake of the harried customers, the carrier would be able to pursue its OEM partners to follow suit sooner rather than later. Its worth mentioning that Motorola is one of the very few OEMs whose phones are actually relatively bloatware free. The Moto G, E, X (Play, Style/Pure) and Droid Turbo smartphones offer an experience that mimic the pure Android experience on Nexus devices for the most part, unlike most mainstream OEMs in the market today.