Nobody else owns our experiences
Doc Searls

Right on all counts, Doc. What isn’t in your piece though is that as bad as the status quo is, the rate at which it gets worse is accelerating. Case in point: the 10 different things the latest Verizon update broke on my phone isn’t the worst thing about the update. The new bundled software is.

Check it out:

Verizon’s new ad delivery pipeline

This is not somebody’s app that Verizon bundled. It’s Verizon’s own app and content distribution network. It cannot be uninstalled. Despite the label, pressing the Uninstall button just uninstalls any updates, leaving the original version of the app delivered in the OS update behind. There is no upgrade to an ad-free version because the whole point of the app is to generate ad revenue.

According to a story in WSJ:

Recently, Verizon connected go90 with AOL’s advertising technology software, meaning that advertisers should be able to take advantage of more robust, data-driven ad targeting on the app. “If they can amass a large enough audience — not a small feat — they have a lot tech and targeting that can be coupled with it to be valuable,” said Mike Margolin, senior vice president, director of audience Strategy at the ad agency RPA.

As a Verizon customer I do not perceive this as a positive experience. To me this is bloatware designed to create demand for billable bandwidth and monetize my preferences and behavior. To add injury to insult, Verizon generates this revenue by placing me at risk of malware delivered through the 3rd party ad delivery pipeline. While my experience of it as an individual is “merely” an increased risk of malware, in aggregate across Verizon’s customer base the statistical probability of malware being successfully delivered to some subset of customers through the ad channel approaches certainty.

Whether Verizon or the AdTech firms admit it or not, the underlying calculus of this revenue model is that to get a lot of revenue you have to give your customers a little digital cancer. As long as it is an externality and remains unaccountable everybody, except of course the consumer whose preferences in the matter are even less respected than their safety, is happy.