You call them bloatware, some actually use them

So this has been a contentious topic, bloatware by either carriers or OEMs. Samsung has gotten the most hell for pre-installing software on top of what Google installed on Android. So let’s explore the reasons “bloat” is pre-installed on Android hardware.

  1. OEM believes new users need the installed apps to get going, you know, help the discover apps that would make their stay easy without going to the forest that is Google’s play store.

  2. OEM probably got paid by third parties to pre-install apps and get them discovered by all users who buy their devices.

This is pretty much it. So whichever the reason, it does work for some and doesn’t for others. For the longest time these didn’t bother me. I’ve used Samsung devices for the longest time, even when I don’t use apps, I never feel the need to uninstall them. Recently there has been a concerted effort by other players, especially brands Tecno and Infinix to install apps like Jumia and OLX. I uninstall these even before I figure whether I need them.

My cousin, a person who I’d consider a light user of smartphones, would barely know what Google Keep or Evernote is, chose to keep them. She actually felt that it was a good idea that the OLX app was there, she sells clothes, so she will go in and sign up. Bloat is good for her and she would probably would have gone to the browser to access the same service.

Where does that leave you?

I think it is a good strategy to pre-install some apps that a user may immediately need upon purchase of a device. The critical factor would also to be confine the pre-installation to local apps such as OLX and Jumia and mainstream apps such as Whasapp and Facebook. That said, cramming apps on a device before even the user gets it can be a tad annoying to tech enthusiasts who normally use non-conventional apps.

Martin you left out a 3rd reason, that of network operators asking the OEM to pre install some app(s) based on an agreed upon plan. As operators move to diversify their portfolio of products with a bid of driving incremental revenues, we will see a shift from the traditional voice and SMS products to more data based value propositions. An easy way to do this is via network based solutions but this usually hard to deliver. Operators will therefore roll out app based products and services, the best example is M-Ledger from Safaricom, and other common self care apps by many operators. Operators are therefore asking OEMs to pre install these owned apps (mostly in the phones that they directly sell in their retail distribution network). In other cases network operators partner with content owners and OTT players (the likes of Facebook, Uber etc) to push these apps by pre installing them in their own devices (Vodafone branded devices, T-Mobile etc) so that they can push their data revenues.

Thanks @mahboobah for the add-on. Yes there is that other reason and is quite good especially where the said pre-installed apps are utility apps that users actually need. Mledger is one great example. However things aren’t always that shiny especially for third party apps. I for example don’t use Facebook on mobile, I have limited that to web. So pre-installing that would men some space I will probably never utilize.