And third is invisible, silent, and unremovable stuff (like Carrier IQ, which now seems to be on its way out) that seems tied specifically to the carrier, which needs no further commentary.
You can usually remove apps in the first category. The other two are almost always immutable.
Barring a jailbreak or a custom ROM, what’s a user to do if they’re faced with a crapware-loaded phone?
Trade it in, I guess, but I’m thinking of long-term solutions. One solution that suggests itself is to use exactly the same approach as the PC makers.
Give us the option to pay a little more—either up front or in the form of a few extra bucks a month—to have a phone that does not have all this stuff wedged into it. Let us pay for the privilege of a phone that is a little cleaner, a little more bare-bones, and a little less their idea of what the phone should be.
Some of this is possible by way of, say, buying an unlocked phone, but the upfront cost on an unlocked phone is so high that it’s no wonder most people shy away from it. The carriers themselves ought to offer us that much more flexibility in terms of what we have to live with on our phones. The first carrier that does is going to get a long, hard look from me about getting my business (assuming it isn’t the one I already use).
On a side note, I’m also hoping more phone manufacturers will do the right thing and make the unlocking of phones something that can be accomplished by the end user via officially sanctioned tools. Custom ROMS and rooting aren’t my idea of an optimal way to cleaning up my phone, but any way to make the process less ornery is welcome.
That said, I see the pay-to-clean option being more appealing to the carriers: it puts more money back in their pocket.
Each successive wave of new technology brings us devices that are that much smaller, lighter, more convenient—and that much more directly tied to services and systems without which it’s little more than a Gorilla Glass-glazed paperweight.
I’m not surprised that every company and its brother wants to lose a little money upfront selling us a device, only because they can make it up in spades later on by selling us services through it.
I don’t mind that part. I've learned to live with it as part of the cost of the always-on age. What I do mind is being forced to use a device that was perfectly good before they went and second-guessed what we wanted from it.
As crazy as it sounds, I'm asking for the right to pay a little more to get a little less. But it means less junk … who wouldn't want that?