One of the things that fascinates me about the way that the smartphone market is developing is whether it is following a similar path to the PC market. It’s easy to see the conflict between Apple and Google, for example, as a re-run of Apple versus Microsoft – and draw the conclusion that the end result will be similar.
I don’t think the analogy holds as strongly as some commentators believe, but there are some interesting areas where Android looks increasingly like Windows. One example of this a what some companies would call “value-added software”, which consumers often call “crapware”: additional software which customises the user experience or (in theory) adds additional “free” functionality to the supplied product.
On Android, this manifests itself as “user experiences” like HTC‘s SenseUI, but it’s not only manufacturers that want to play this game. Consider, too, the kinds of software added by networks like Vodafone:
“Vodafone has flagged up the forthcoming release of HTC’s Android-based smartphones Legend and Desire on its network next month.Legend will come with Vodafone’s 360 content and social networking portal pre-loaded.”
And this is just the start. The temptation for networks to “differentiate” themselves by skinning, amending and otherwise tampering with Android is going to be pretty intense – they’ve done much the same in the past with customised versions of non-smart phones, and they’ll do the same again with the “open” platform of Android.
Of course, the problem with this “value add” is that it rarely adds any value for the customer. The “problems” these kinds of add-ons are designed to solve are usually more to do with operator revenue than customer need.
Thus, Android is beginning its spiral into the world of crapware, software which serves no real purpose other than to give marketing people a “differentiator” which doesn’t really meet a customer need. And just as it has on the PC, the situation will get worse before it gets better – with the unfortunate issue that crapware is even harder to get rid of on a phone than it is on a computer.
(Image from louisvolant)