Welcome to ZenUnwired; a blog dedicated to tracking developments in technology and strategy, and to deciphering the impact of these developments on wired and wireless ISP's, device manufacturers, OS and application developers, and most importantly - you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pre-loaded Apps: Good, bad or just plain ugly?

Like many of you, I am NOT a fan of the apps that come pre-installed on many of our smartphones. Its not the pre-installing that irritates me; its the 'if you want to uninstall these apps, you're outta luck' attitude that really gets my goat. For example - I have absolutely no interest in Nascar but the app stays on MY phone taunting me everytime I'm scrolling through my list of apps. On my earlier devices (Blackberry Pearl & Palm Pre), there was just no way to remove these pre-loaded apps unless you literally hacked into the phone. On Android, I at least have the option of deleting the shortcut from my Home screens. That said, I know the app is still on my phone, consuming my phone's memory, eating into my battery and other scarce resources, and generally being that itch I cant scratch. 

This got me to thinking: Beyond the obvious revenue/strategic/legal agreements etc., why do carriers put these apps on our customers phones? Do our customers even like having these apps on their phones? Do they use these apps or are they just as frustrated as I am?

The reality it seems, is that I am in the minority. I recently came across an interesting research report called "Preloaded Applications– The Hype and the Reality" by iGR Research that contained the answers my questions. Here are some of the highlights of the iGR Research study that really caught my attention.

  1. Only 5% of respondents indicated that they had "jail-broken" or "unlocked" their cellular phone
  2. 25% of respondents said that the kinds or quality of applications pre-loaded or pre-installed on their handset was a factor in their purchase decision.
  3. More than two-thirds of all respondents said the pre-installed apps were a factor driving the purchase of their device.
  4. When asked how they discovered new apps, 48% of respondents said they tried the pre-loaded or pre-installed applications on their phone; 33% said they heard about apps from friends and family; and 26% said they browse the app stores.
  5. The most popular selections for the kinds of apps consumers wanted pre-loaded were maps/navigations/GPS (64%), call control applications like caller ID and call blocking (49%), and music applications (46%).
  6. Only 35% of the respondents stated that they did not use the pre-loaded applications on their current phone. Of these consumers, 55% said they did because of charges/fees associated with using the pre-loaded applications
  7. iGR asked consumers what they usually do if their cell phone has pre-installed/pre-loaded applications that they do not want. The majority, 63% said they just ignore the applications and their presence does not bother them. Another 20% said they try to uninstall the apps through trial and error and just 5% said they call customer service at the operator.

Therefore, the findings of this research report seems to suggest that not only do customers like pre-loaded apps, they frequently base their purchase decision on the kinds/quality of these pre-loaded apps. Also, most customers (unlike you and me) are not bothered by apps on their phone that they dont use. 

A definite eye-opener for me.

For the full report from iGR Research, CLICK HERE