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Cellphones Handhelds Software

South Korean Court Rules That Phone Bloatware Must Be Deletable 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-off-my-phone dept.
_0x783czar writes "Starting this April, South Korea will require all phone vendors to allow pre-installed bloatware to be uninstalled. That's right, they will be able to get rid of all that pesky software without having to root their phones. According to press release by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, 'The move aims to rectify an abnormal practice that causes inconvenience to smartphone users and causes unfair competition among industry players.' They hope this will also increase the users' data storage and battery life. From the article: 'Under the new guidelines, telcos are required to make most of their pre-installed apps deletable except for four necessary items related to Wi-Fi connectivity, near-field communication (NFC), the customer service center and the app store.' It'd be nice if similar legislation were passed in the U.S. and elsewhere."
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South Korean Court Rules That Phone Bloatware Must Be Deletable

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:15PM (#46060243) Homepage Journal

    Good on anti-trust enforcement.
    Pretty damn stupid on fan-death enforcement.

    • by Servaas (1050156)

      How are they at imposing Hollywood's will? And how is the weather there? Might make a nice place to move too.

      • by rk (6314)

        Not sure where Hollywood enters this, unless you're getting there via the wrong definition of fan.

        I pretty sure this [wikipedia.org] is what the GP is referring to.

    • by stud9920 (236753)

      Good on anti-trust enforcement..

      Then how come they HAVE to run Windows only software in order to do e-gov and e-banking related stuff?

      • by DickBreath (207180) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:30PM (#46060497) Homepage
        Because IE 6 only runs on Windows.
        • by tepples (727027)
          Let me rephrase: Then how come they HAVE to run IE 6 in order to do e-gov and e-banking related stuff?
          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Let me rephrase: Then how come they HAVE to run IE 6 in order to do e-gov and e-banking related stuff?

            Because a mandatory authentication module uses ActiveX - probably something to do with their national ID card or something.

          • Because the government decreed ActiveX as the standard for banking and other government-related things back in the 90's.

            It kinda made sense back then, IE 6 and ActiveX was actually superior to Netscape and Java plug-in (or whatever it was).

            The problem is that as time went by, the world moved on, but S.Korea was stuck because everybody was already using ActiveX and they had invested huge amounts of time and money into it. This demonstrates the problem with doing things by government decree. In the US, banks

            • by jrumney (197329)

              It kinda made sense back then, IE 6 and ActiveX was actually superior to Netscape and Java plug-in (or whatever it was).

              It was superior to the 40-bit export quality encryption that US-based suppliers were allowed to include in their browsers (the US relaxed its export laws before the ActiveX controls gained widespread deployment, but with the momentum of a government project and the factor of national pride in having a homegrown encryption standard, they couldn't put the brakes on). But they could just as

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:23PM (#46060389)

    The South Koreans are officially light years ahead of the US in terms of internet connectivity and smartphones.

    • But can you speak Korean?

    • Phone companies make more money with bloatware.
      More money means more taxes paid.*
      More taxes is good for the people!
      Bloatware is good for the people.

      * (Nevermind those off-shore tax shelter front companies and campaign contributions.)

      • Re:Nonsense. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:46PM (#46060739)

        Wait, how do they make more money with bloatware?
        Everybody ignores the bloatware, installs the apps they want, disables the paid bloatware ones.

        They waste money with bloatware, piss off users, slow down their updates, and cause people to hack their phones.

        Dear South Korea: Can we borrow your judges?

        • ^ this in droves.

          The OEM computer market suffers the same blight but at least we can re-image or uninstall. The issue is with phones if we re-image we can no longer have updates, which on an android platform (especially) is silly.

          You can tell I'm a n00b - I replied instead of modding up.
        • by KPU (118762)

          cause people to hack their phones

          So there is some positive?

        • Most of the non-technical smartphone owners I know (iOS or Android, doesn't matter) are incapable of doing any of the things you mentioned. They have no idea what bloatware means, nor do they have any understanding of the pros/cons of it. For the most part, they are even afraid of those settings menus provided by the OS. You really think the telcos are not profiting from added software layers to these customers? Really?
          • by icebike (68054)

            Even non technical users have friends.
            Those friends tell them at a minimum, to disable the bloatware in the settings, and never
            use those icons.

    • by antdude (79039)

      We should move there. :)

  • by Akratist (1080775) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:24PM (#46060401)
    Not sure I'd consider bloatware to be "abnormal." Seems pretty ubiquitous in recent years. Deviant, warped, evil, insidious all work, though.
  • by bob_super (3391281) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:24PM (#46060409)

    Keep dreaming.
    Bloating phones with money-making unstable privacy-invading tracking crapware is their first amendment right, and we are required to be glad for it, because it saves us the hassle of ordering our unlocked phones online.

    • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday January 24, 2014 @04:59PM (#46061687) Homepage Journal

      Keep dreaming.
      Bloating phones with money-making unstable privacy-invading tracking crapware is their first amendment right, and we are required to be glad for it, because it saves us the hassle of ordering our unlocked phones online.

      You know, I've read the Constitution and all Amendments several times, and I still can't find the clause that actually gives rights of any kind to businesses.

      From what I can tell, the Constitution only mentions 3 entities: Federal government, State government, and the People. Of course, corporations did exist back then (the collusion between the East India Tea Company and the British crown was a large part of the colonists rationale for revolting, after all), so it's not like it was an oversight.

      So... what's up with all this talk about business rights? Businesses don't have rights.

      • You know, I've read the Constitution and all Amendments several times, and I still can't find the clause that actually gives rights of any kind to businesses.

        From what I can tell, the Constitution only mentions 3 entities: Federal government, State government, and the People. Of course, corporations did exist back then (the collusion between the East India Tea Company and the British crown was a large part of the colonists rationale for revolting, after all), so it's not like it was an oversight.

        So... w

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Amen. The other dirty little secret of American history that they don't want you to know is that corporations in the past were subject to a LOT more limitations than they are today. They could only exist for a set period of time, for instance. They could not own other corporations. They were formed for one purpose and one purpose only. If they were found to be not acting in the public interest they could be forcibly dissolved.

        So when "conservatives" (the usual corporate apologists) tell you that they w

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You mean I could delete the Satellite & PVR apps for the satellite TV and PVR I don't have?

    That makes too much sense, such a law will never pass here. Not that we should even need such a law.

    I bet they'd just bundle it all into one massive buggy bloatware "customer service app"

  • Here's an idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DickBreath (207180) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:34PM (#46060557) Homepage
    Motivate the carriers to remove the bloatware. They can keep it if they want. Don't force them. Let the free market decide.

    The first bloatware app on the phone reduces your monthly phone cost (pre-tax) by 50%.
    Each additional bloatware app on the phone reduces your bill by 50% of what is left. So 2nd app further reduces bill by 25% of original bill.
    The idea being that each app cuts your bill in half. Just keep cutting in half.

    Now they can game the system and raise prices to sky high levels, you say.

    Ah, but that makes them look awfully anti-competitive next to their competitor's phone that has, say, one fewer bloatware app on it.

    Put that rule in place, let the carriers figure it out, and I bet the bloatware problem will disappear quickly.
    • by Krojack (575051)

      They will just say the app is required for the full user experience thus not classifying it as bloatware. What the end user calls bloatware the device manufacture or carrier calls a system tool.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Exactly. It's really hard to define bloatware. My phone came with Facebook. Many people wouldn't consider that bloatware, but actually an essential piece of the phone. What about things like the SMS software. Technically it's just an app, and I could replace it with something else, but most users would probably be quite annoyed if they were browsing the "bloatware" they could delete, and accidentally removed the SMS capabilities of their phone.
        • by anagama (611277)

          There is no reason to make everyone in the world suffer because someone deletes an app after confirming they want to delete an app. Even so, if an app can be deleted, it can be installed, and with something like facebook, where all the info is on FB's servers, what exactly would be lost by accidental deletion? Nothing. Just reinstall.

          Ultimately, it's pretty easy to draw a line. Everything after "telephone" is an extra. Even SMS, though it could just arguably be included as not bloatware -- many people

          • A lot of non-technical people expect a "smartphone" to be able to do a list of tasks as soon as they take it out of packaging, and would find downloading a bunch of "basics" from the App Store quite an annoyance, if they even manage to do it at all. Why is it better to annoy 80% of users who are non-technical just to satisfy the egotistical demands of a few technical purists?
          • by sir-gold (949031)

            I would argue that texting is an essential feature of a phone, because it it has been around for far longer than smartphones, and because it is usually charged as a separate service provided by the cellular carrier.

            Facebook would a borderline case, because most people use facebook, and it is technically a communications tool. However, crap like sports apps, or shopping apps, or apps that require a separate subscription to use, are definitely bloatware.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        This is why American can't have nice phones. You are obsessed with the legal language. In other countries a judge will just look at some crapware app and tell the carrier to remove it because any reasonable person would consider it bloatware.

        That is the legal test for many things by the way: what a "reasonable" person would think, with "reasonable" determined by jury.

    • "Also, I hate Samsung, so have the government enact a million-dollar tariff on every Samsung phone and then let the free market decide. Power to the people!"

      —Stal- uh, Joe the Libertarian.

    • by Solandri (704621)
      You have the right idea, but your numbers make no economical sense. Installing a bloatware app does not make the carrier 50% of your monthly service fee. It will be difficult to justify that if a carrier sues.

      Instead, institute a common-sense rule. If the phone's owner does not have complete control of the phone and his monthly fee does not decrease when his contract is up, the phone is not truly his and he doesn't really own it. The carrier is still considered to be leasing it to the customer, and i
    • by Tom (822)

      Let the free market decide.

      There's no such thing as a free market, except in economics theory. Every real-world market is either regulated, or massively manipulated, or largely intransparent, or in the hands of an oligarchy, or any combination of those.

      Besides, you are not proposing a free-market-decision, you are just proposing a different, more complex and more difficult to enforce regulation.

  • It must be nice. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It must be nice living in a free civilized country - free from some corporate tyranny.

    We corporately oppressed people here in the US have to shut up and take it.

    Don't do business with evil corporation, Mr. Libertarian?

    Well, now. Wouldn't that be great! See, ALL of the ISPs have control of the market and unless I want to get on the waiting list at my local library to use the Internet computers, I'm a bit screwed. I wonder how a potential employer would feel if I responded to an email days later telling the

  • One of my problems with Samsung phones is the software on them. I like them otherwise. I like them with custom firmware better. The manufacturer and carrier bloatware soaks performance and resources which could be used by the user. But I suspect it will only apply to S.Korean phones and not those sold through carriers in the US.

  • GPE (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:40PM (#46060639)

    My last few phones have all been Google Play Editions, and I can't be happier.

    I'd toyed with Cyanogenmod, but there's a breakeven point between the time I spend dicking with a phone to unlock and reflash it - then deal with any of the incompatibilities that come up (especially with things like NFC and cameras, as previous loading/updating Google apps), and just getting an unlocked phone for what I'd have paid my carrier for it after they sneak the actual cost into my bill.

    Most people will never know. They're going to have a crazy launcher, and tons of bloat, and locked tethering, and who knows what the hell else shoehorned into their phone because AT&T-MobRision made a deal with ESPN.

    • by JLennox (942693)

      On my Google Play Nexus 4 I can either update Google Wallet, which wants new permissions, or I can sit there with the update notice forever, but I can't uninstall it.

      Google Currents, Google+, Google Wallet, Google Drive, Google Hangouts, Keep, Movie Studio, News & Weather, Photos, Gallery, Play Movies & TV, Play Music, Play Newsstand, Play Store, Quickoffice, Voice Search, Calendar, Clock, Downloads

      Really, it's just Google branded bloatware. Using a custom shell I hid ~75% of the applications inside

  • What?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Friday January 24, 2014 @03:41PM (#46060663)

    Separate Internet Explorer from Windows?! That's impossible!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And yet again another restriction issued on businesses by the South Koreans, where the North has no such restriction.

    • by Polo (30659) *

      True.

      However, I can't remove Glorious Leader's birthday from my calendar.

  • This way I could get rid of all the stuff on my Android that Google wants me to have but will never use.
    • by mythosaz (572040)

      For most people, there isn't too much on a GPE phone that you can't delete that you wouldn't want if you wanted an Android phone to begin with.

      I suppose you might not want Chrome, or even the Play Store for that matter, but there's not much on a GPE device that qualifies as bloat.

      Nobody ever complained that Windows included CALC.EXE

  • I am convinced the purpose of unkillable bloatware is more than just extra promotional money -- it's designed, in conjunction woth limited RAM, to cause browsers to be killed off when you switch to another app, like messages or phone, so that when you switch back the page must be re-downloaded (curious it isn't cached locally when the browser isn't running), thus aiding in using up your data cap that much faster.

    • I run Xubuntu (GNU/Linux) on a laptop with 1 GB of RAM and Android 4.4 on a tablet with 1 GB of RAM. I too have noticed that web browsers for Android tend to cache less than web browsers for GNU/Linux. Perhaps this is because the built-in NAND flash memory is much smaller than a PC hard drive and limited in erase cycles. A 1 GB cache is a lot more noticeable on an 8 GB phone or tablet than on even a 160 GB netbook.
  • Hopefully the US follows them one day. Ive had to root several tmobile phone just to get rid of all their junk Ive never used once I started running low on phone storage. One app would pop up after 7 days saying my phone had been on along time and I should reboot it soon, pretty useless. After the 5 tmobile apps I got rid of google plus, hangouts, drive smart, evernote, lookout security, a few streaming music services and a bunch more.
  • What do you want? Competitive mobile phone companies that are allowed to innovate in order to bring enhanced value to their customers, or some dirty socialist government regulation? The phone companies know what's best for us. Who are we to decide what programs and features belong on our phones?
  • I buy Apple and Google devices - so no bloatware anywhere to be found.

    Sure, I'd love to remove a few of the Apple apps.. but you toss them in a folder and forget they were ever there. They're small.

  • are you saying "Super Bubble Pop 2" _isn't_ a systems application?
  • what the subject said.

  • 'Under the new guidelines, telcos are required to make most of their pre-installed apps deletable except for four necessary items related to Wi-Fi connectivity, near-field communication (NFC), the customer service center and the app store.' It'd be nice if similar legislation were passed in the U.S. and elsewhere."

    They could just make one monolithic wifi+nfc+customer service+app store+bloatshit app that now satisfies the requirement that it is necessary to run the phone, and still doesn't give people what

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm a Sr. Systems Engineer for one of the top handset OEMs, ergo I must post this as AC...
    The OEM bloatware is one thing, the corporation that I work for is going to start phasing it out in 2014 because they've finally come to the conclusion that they will never make enough money from secondary app/music stores and other OEM add-ons to even break even on the costs of maintaining the requisite backend systems. I don't know about other OEMs, but as with the market finally being saturated and margins heading
  • This may be nitpicking, but the title itself seems to be incorrect: this isn't a court ruling.

    This is a guideline released by the government authority who is in charge of telecommunication policy. It's an agreement between the agency, three biggest carriers (SKT, KT, U+), three Korean phone manufactures (Samsung, LG, Pantech, etc.), and Google (Curious why Apple is missing). Probably not legally enforceable (How can you define "bloatware" in a legal term?) but at least it's a good starting point.

    Yes, I RT

  • ... phone bloatware is only for old people.

  • I have a phone on my shelf that was perfectly serviceable.... until X phone company decided to "upgrade" its software, including preinstalled apps, that just happened to completely fill up its memory and ask for more. After complaining to the company that this had killed the battery from the constant "updates necessary" alerts, their advice was, naturally, to buy a new phone.
    There ought to be a law....

  • I dont want some obscure social networking app to just be integrated into my NFC or WiFi driver instead. Seriously though i bet this just pushes them to hide more crap so it's not obvious.
  • ...when's this getting ported to android? Can't wait.
  • According to Airdroid, my Galaxy has ~240 system apps (some of which seem to be OS-related, however) compared to 40 apps I installed myself.

That does not compute.

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