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Verizon Offered To Install Marketers' Apps Directly On Subscribers' Phones ( 198

According to a report on AdAge, Verizon Wireless is trying to add more bloatware to Android phones by installing apps from other companies in exchange for payment. From the report: The wireless carrier has offered to install big brands' apps on its subscribers' home screens, potentially delivering millions of downloads, according to agency executives who have considered making such deals for their clients. But that reach would come at a cost: Verizon was seeking between $1 and $2 for each device affected, executives said. Verizon started courting advertisers with app installations late last year, pitching retail and finance brands among others, agency executives said. It has only offered the installations on Android phones, because Google's software is open for carriers to customize. Apple controls its platform more tightly. The proposed deals with brands ensure that their apps download to only new devices when consumers activate the phones and their software for the first time.
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Verizon Offered To Install Marketers' Apps Directly On Subscribers' Phones

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  • by John Smith ( 4340437 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @12:44PM (#52720003)
    That Google should force all Android phones to be unlocked, and no contract, even if they have to change the license.
    • Well, if they were truly talking about Android phones... I'll explain:

      First, see, the first image shown in the article itself []. Then note that it has the following caption: "Verizon has offered to install marketers' brands directly on new Android subscribers' phones, according to agency executives. Credit: Courtesy Verizon"

      Don't you just love advertising execs?

      • As long as carriers are customizing Android, they're going to find a way to fill it with bloatware and crapware that they can monetize. And if history is any judge, you may not be able to delete it. I'm sure most of us remember the early days of carrier preinstalled apps you can't remove, of AT&T forcing your search to Yahoo instead of Google, etc etc

        Say what you will about Apple, the last story in this vein that we heard was about Apple discussing making fewer apps uninstallable, not more, or selling "

    • Why should Google do that? It would only sell fewer phones that way.

      It's really the responsibility of the consumer to get a an unlocked Android phone with no contract. The consumer has that option already.

  • If on the other hand I can't, the phone's going to get unlocked and rooted. All carriers should take note - we're getting closer to a discontinuity in how much we're willing to be abused.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's the PC industry all over again. Kickbacks for crapware, installed by default. Permanent product placement on your app screen and no option to remove it.
      The last Lenovo laptop I bought wasn't able to play Skyrim because crapware kept getting in the way and stealing focus, locking up the GPU.

      Now it's a race to see who is going to root the device first - the malvertisers with root certs or the users with jailbreaks.

      • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

        I never thought I would be saying this but the Microsoft Store -- both online and the brick stores -- is a great shopping experience. They sell computers from a number of brands without crapware and they are the same prices if not cheaper than the crapware version.

        I bought a Dell 2-n-1 Inspiron from there recently. I never thought I would be able to buy a clean Dell consumer computer.

        • Microsoft Store does not seem to sell any laptops that run Windows 7.

    • by geek ( 5680 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @01:07PM (#52720151)

      If on the other hand I can't, the phone's going to get unlocked and rooted. All carriers should take note - we're getting closer to a discontinuity in how much we're willing to be abused.

      So what happens when Verizon pushes out a malware infested app that roots your device?

      • Verizon figures it out weeks later, rolls out a fix, someone files a class action, Verizon settles for $20 million, $19 million of which goes to lawyers, you get a card in the mail telling you to go to between the hours of 4 and 5 AM on the second tuesday after the winter solstice to register for your class action payout, and 6 months after that you get a check for $0.16

        • The purpose of a class action is not to recompense the victims, but to sting the offender a large sum of money so they don't do it again.

          It's only worthwhile from the lawyers' perspective if they get paid.

          So the choice is to allow the laywers to be paid, or to allow companies to get away with micro bill padding and other nasty activity that isn't worth an individual lawsuit.

      • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @02:11PM (#52720589)
        You're capable of following the directions on the web to unlock and root your phone -- that's makes you a very atypical phone customer! Most people are too stupid to understand what their carrier is forcing them to do.
        • You know what costs not a nickel extra, though? Buying unlocked phones directly from manufacturers and bringing your own device. As a bonus, it also requires no technical knowledge.

        • 1) You can buy phones unlocked at the big box stores.
          2) some jurisdictions require that the phone be unlocked after you've paid it off if it was subsidized.
    • One small problem I can see (well, three...)

      First, most folks can't even spell "Cyanogen", let alone root/mod their phones.

      Second, of those that can, most will not think it worth the effort, for fear of bricking their pricey subsidized phones. Easier/faster to disable the app in question and remove all references/shortcuts to it outside of the App Manager.

      Third, telcos can retaliate. A more extreme example would be adding language to their little contracts that say something like "For security purposes, if

      • At which point any judge that knows what the magnusson moss warranty act is would throw out that whole section of the contract. Also gotcha-clauses like that are rarely enforceable because they lack adequate consideration and there's no meeting of the minds.

      • "f the user installs or modified the operating system without consent or permission from EvilTelco Inc: all warranties will be null and void,"

        Magnusson-Moss act would take a huge dump right on top of this.
    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      we're getting closer to a discontinuity in how much we're willing to be abused.

      Hehehe, the plan is to do it slowly so the bar raises as slowly without anybody noticing. It has been going on for ever.

      • by paiute ( 550198 )

        we're getting closer to a discontinuity in how much we're willing to be abused.

        Said the frogs as the water got warmer.

  • I use a carrier unlocked Nexus on my Verizon account... No bloat there, none allowed.

    Looked at getting a Samsung S7 to replace my Samsung S6 when I was looking but the Verizon price was ridiculous and the Nexus was easier to deal with.

    • Easier yet - buy an unlocked phone of whatever, then tie it to Net10, Tracfone, or whatever... using Verizon's network anyway.

      My LG G3 cost me $200 off of Amazon, and does everything I want it to. It took all of an hour to plug it in, set up a $35/mo semi-unlimited plan, and it happily does tx/rx over Verizon's network. I save enough money on average to buy two unlocked slightly-behind-the-times phones a year if I so desired, and if I did that I would still be ahead of the typical Subsidy Schmuck paying Ver

  • Does Verizon test whether any of these apps are actually a rootkit masquerading as an app? If not, I'd say that's pretty cheap for guaranteed delivery to people who don't know how their phone SHOULD be behaving.

    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      Does Verizon test whether any of these apps are actually a rootkit masquerading as an app?

      The answer is obvious: no

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Verizon get $5 instead of $2 per install if it is a rootkit.

  • Did we really think companies wouldn't charge money for advertising?

  • How many apps? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @12:56PM (#52720083)
    How many potential installs are they looking for? If i were a Verizon customer i'd consider paying at _least_ $10 extra to avoid having all the extra crap installed on my phone.

    (Assuming of course that after paying the Danegeld the amortized cost would still be less than switching to a different phone on a different provider.)
  • So Verizon is taking lessons on business strategy from Microsoft now? Shove unwanted software down your customers' throats all in the name of profit? Them, them, fuck them. Yet another thing to add to my 'reasons to never own a smartphone' list. Hell, even the cheap-ass $50 LG phone AT&T gave me to replace my otherwise perfectly-working 2G phone (because they're decomissioning 2G towers, bastards!) has shit on it I don't want and would rather have the memory free for other things. What a shitfest mobile
    • Why do you think Verizon bought aol and yahoo? They wanted to learn the best ways to abuse your customers.

      Next up Verizon buys Comcast for customer service specialists

  • Carrier Phones - RIP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Carcass666 ( 539381 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @12:58PM (#52720097)

    There doesn't appear to be much of a reason to buy a carrier-bound phone anymore, especially Android.

    • Security updates are few and far between
    • Major OS updates are almost non-existent
    • Blocking of OS functionality (ex. expandable storage on SD), WI-FI calling
    • Vendor bloatware
    • And now, third-party bloatware
    • Little financial benefit (what little there ever was) in subsidization

    Basically, if you want an Android phone that will remain supported, you almost have to go non-carrier Nexus

    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      Is the BYOD price on any carrier low enough for that to be true?
      Around here you only come out ahead if you can find a new non-carrier phone for less than $240 which seems highly unlikley.

      • T-Mobile doesn't subsidize phones. You pay the full price. You can pay it up front or over 24 months (interest free) but it is full retail. So it makes no difference if you get it from them or someone else.

        Also means their plans tend to be cheaper than competing plans, since there's no subsidy rolled in to the monthly charge.

        • by green1 ( 322787 )

          That would be refreshing, here we get a discount for BYOD, but it's not that much. They have 3 tiers of phones you can subsidize, basic, smartphones, premium smartphones.
          Start with the BYOD price, add $5/mo for the basic phones, $10/mo for the smartphones, and $15/mo for the premium smartphones. Over the 2 year contract period, those prices don't cover the cost of buying one of those devices. This tells me that even if you BYOD you're still paying roughly half the subsidy cost, meaning it's still cheaper to

  • symptoms, symptoms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by supernova87a ( 532540 ) < minus language> on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @01:03PM (#52720123)
    This kind of behavior is just a symptom of the deeper problem that no one (or very few people) at these traditional telecom companies are fundamentally interested in advocating for the customer's comprehensive experience and satisfaction.

    They view every interaction as a way to milk out profit in the short term, regardless of how much of the burden and dissatisfaction it shifts onto the consumer.

    Any wonder, then, that whenever the customer has a chance to dump them and shift to a provider/medium/hardware solution that works better and is considerate of the customer's desires, they do?
    • by sinij ( 911942 )

      They view every interaction as a way to milk out profit in the short term, regardless of how much of the burden and dissatisfaction it shifts onto the consumer.

      This is their fiduciary duty to shareholders. This is how corporate capitalism works, by design.

      • They have a duty to build a successful company. They can totally say "goodwill is a better investment than $2 million dollars from an ad company."

      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @03:37PM (#52721245)

        This is their fiduciary duty to shareholders.

        This is utterly wrong. They have a duty to try and keep the company healthy. Angering customers who then leave is doing the opposite.

        What you and all of the other ignorant people that parrot your "fiduciary duty" crap fail to realize is that money is only one metric of a companies success, and even that is measured in the long term. Otherwise I could literally offer them one dollar to have all sales people dress like rabbits and they would be forced to do so because $1 is greater than $0.

    • Boy, do you have it right on "milk out profit in the short term." The CEO needs his retirement parachute, before it goes up in flames!

  • Verizon coverage where I live used to be amazing. But this last year something changed and its been degrading terribly. I was going to try an Android phone again next year but between this news and the worsening coverage I may just end up going to T-Mobile. At least I get wifi calling with them.

    • I'd suggest Project Fi if you're considering a Nexus phone, depending on your situation.

      Your voice and data comes over whatever is the best connection among T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, and Fi hotspots at any given location.

      + Coverage is better than any individual carrier.
      + Data speeds will be very good almost everywhere.
      + Voice, text, and data pricing are extremely competitive.
      + Wifi calling is automatic and preferred when available.

      - No group plans
      - No equivalent to T-Mobile's Binge On
      - Only available f

  • Apple treats its customers and its views of security and privacy versus google is astoundingly shocking. Apple may be a walled garden. But you don't see any of the daily malware stories, hacking stories, stories like this on iOS. Think what you want about Apple, call them liars, etc but they really DO care about the user experience and users security. Enjoy your craptastic android phones that get better by the minute!
    • by EvilSS ( 557649 )
      Problem is, it's not really Google at fault here. If it was Google, they would have the same leverage Apple did when they told the carriers to take their crapware and fuck off. Google makes the OS but they don't make many of the phones. They are one level removed. It's up to HTC, Samsung, LG, etc to try to exert that pressure on the carriers and most don't have the leverage to do it. Samsung might, but they don't seem interested in using it.
  • I think if consumers were aware they had more options, this wouldn't happen. I would like to see some consumer friendly web sites that let people know what options are available for each model phone and carrier in terms of controlling apps and bloat. I find it very frustrating Verizon has a bunch of stuff bundled on my phone that I can't un-install, but I'm not sure what my options are if I want to take matters into my own hands?

  • by hondo77 ( 324058 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @01:38PM (#52720373) Homepage
    How's escaping the tyranny of Apple's walled garden working out for you? Meet the new boss, worse than the old boss.
    • Re:Apple Fanboy Here (Score:5, Informative)

      by ZiakII ( 829432 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @02:02PM (#52720533)
      How's escaping the tyranny of Apple's walled garden working out for you? Meet the new boss, worse than the old boss.

      Fine because I just buy a Google Nexus Phone and can do whatever the hell I want with it? Unlocked boot-loader, root access, because its my own piece of hardware.
  • Please please please let me remove any app I don't want without being forced to root my phone.

    Fuck these assholes.
  • by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Wednesday August 17, 2016 @03:43PM (#52721273)
    Before cell phones and tablets existed, the Bell Companies sold their white page listings to third party marketers without customers' consent.

    Then when customers started complaining about telemarketers, the Bell Companies offered to sell them tools to block them. They never told the customers about the sale of their personal data.

    The Bell Companies pocketed money twice - from the marketers, then from the customers.

    I'm seeing a similar pattern from Verizon. They sell direct install apps to marketers, then customers complain and Verizon offers to sell tools to block those apps.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva