I’m sure you’ve bought a car at some point or known someone who has (that ought to cover all the bases!). The last time I did so, I had a discussion with the salesperson about what value was assigned to the advertising for the dealership they were asking me to do. She was kind of taken aback and didn’t quite know what I was getting at. I asked her if the dealership routinely placed license plate frames with the dealer name and other information on every new car. She said “of course – it’s standard practice”. I told her my standard practice is to remove them in the parking lot before I drive off with the car unless I’m being paid to serve as media for her business. I know – selling me a car might not be worth it!
I raise the point because you might be thinking – oh, it’s just car dealers and no one likes them anyway. But it’s not.
I’m in the process of evaluating phones. I’m currently using a Blackberry on the AT&T network which I have mostly because I like a physical keyboard. It has some severe limitations on application space, however (all Blackberries have this issue) and I’m thinking of moving to an Android device (it would be good to be able to test new apps my clients are developing as well). I can hear you screaming – get to an Apple store! Get on Verizon! I’m very familiar with the iPhone – I use an iPod Touch (the iPhone without the phone) to test and run apps. I have trouble typing on it and I have a number of friends who’ve had cracked phones. I don’t really want to change to Verizon since I frequently am on the phone while using the web and travel to GSM -only places once in a while.
In doing my research I’ve discovered that AT&T does two car-dealerish things to their Android (and other) phones. First, they load them with bloatware – pre-installed applications and “services” that are difficult, if not impossible, to delete or disable. The aforementioned Blackberry issue is that there is only 120Meg of app space which is also used to store other files. A huge portion of this is taken up by AT&T preinstalled crapware. Second, they limit a user’s ability to install applications from sources other than their own store. They’ve taken an open system and closed it. While this is common to all the mobile carriers, at least some of them make overriding that restriction a one-click change in settings (I’m not sure how easy they make it to delete any stuff they preinstall). Not AT&T. In their case, you need either to “sideload” applications off a PC (not terribly difficult, but it means you can’t just grab new apps out of the air) or you need to “root” your phone. This last thing voids your warranty and is above the technical heads of many folks.
In my mind, this is sort of welding the dealer logo or license plate on to the car. They’ll tell you it’s both for your own protection (as if being able to access Amazon to buy and install apps is dangerous) and your own enjoyment (as if most people who buy smartphones can’t figure out where to buy ringtones, or music and really need your crappy map application to go with the 2 others already installed). I don’t think so.
While I’m singling out AT&T today, PC manufacturers have been doing this for years – selling you boxes with way too much crap pre-installed that at best takes up disk space and at worst slows down the machine. Folks, we’re grown-ups. Admittedly, some of us are more technically literate than others. But I just don’t get why, when selling us products that cost us thousands of dollars (figure out the phone costs over the 2 year commitment!) you think it’s OK to cram it full of things that benefit YOU, the seller, and not ME, the buyer. Not only is that not OK, but making it impossible to rectify the situation is spray painting your logo on my new car.