Bloatware: taking your customers for idiots is not good business

Enrique Dans
Apr 24, 2014 · 2 min read

A report by Strategy Analytics reveals something we’ve all known for some time: nobody uses the Samsung apps that are preinstalled in their terminals and that can’t be removed.

This kind of practice, known as bloatware, consists of packaging, or bundling, a series of applications or programs and pre-installing them in a device, either as part of a deal with the developers of the apps, or as a way of trying to popularize them with a view to establishing a position in the market. The strategy dates back to the 1990s, when many computers came with a plague of software of all kinds, from pre-configured internet connections, antivirus software, and many others that were a source of revenue for the manufacturer of the machine.

App Store and Google Play are already competing for mobile game exclusivity in return for money or privileged visibility in their recommendation systems. At the same time, some manufacturers are pre-installing some apps to encourage their use, offering their developers high visibility on their terminals.

Apple’s refusal to allow applications that could be used as an alternative to its own programs has been criticized, prompting any number of articles on how to replace the company’s apps with better ones that will improve performance.

Samsung’s strategy seems to be similar: its smartphones are undoubtedly popular, and so it is trying to convert them into platforms to distribute its own apps, with the intention of becoming an alternative market for all sorts of programs. It occasionally issues absurd press releases congratulating itself on the gazillions of downloads of its apps, when in reality, these apps were pre-installed with pre-approved default updates that when used at all, are usually in error. In the case of its smartphones, there is the added bother of having part of the memory used up by these apps which are constantly asking to be updated.

This strategy, which basically involves treating your customers like idiots, has been proved not to work and just annoys people, who often end up expressing their frustration through evaluations and comments in the corresponding markets. An app that cannot be removed simply, and that automatically updates, using up storage space is simply an insult to the intelligence of your customers. If you want to gain a share of a new market, make a decent app and compete on a level playing field like everybody else, but do not try to leach a market share through a bundling strategy, precisely the one that has landed some tech companies in big trouble. This is something that the competition authorities need to look into.


(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

    Enrique Dans

    Written by

    Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at enriquedans.com

    Enrique Dans

    On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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