Sunday, August 07, 2011

Call to action for Verizon and Motorola

After about a month using the Droid 3 from Motorola / Verizon and comparing it to my prior Droid 1 (which was a Google Experience Device or GED), I’ve got some friendly advice for both Motorola and Verizon. First, here’s a look at the Verizon pre-installed bloatware:

Notice that most of it cannot be uninstalled, and some of it is actually running all the time.

OK, on to the advice:



Don’t install bloatware, junkware, trialware, etc. on our phones. For example this ridiculous “City ID” that pops up when you try to make a call asking if you want to pay for their silly service. It popped up on me while making a call in bright light out of doors. I think I answered it with the correct button for “Go Away”, but I could not really read it since phone displays are generally hard to read outside in bright light conditions. I just wanted to make a call. I don’t want to be interrupted by stupid trial ware. Honestly, if we wanted these applications we know how to use the Android Market or the Amazon AppStore for Android to go get them. Since you have chosen to make them un-removable, we can’t get the junk off of our phones. And, if there is an update to one of them in the market, the space for the pre-installed one is still used up since it cannot be overwritten. Here’s a couple of hints:

  • If you really think these applications are so great, put them in the Android Market and sell them or offer them to people who don’t have Verizon phones. If people really wanted them, you’d make money on them.
  • If you insist on installing them, they need to be un-installable. Can you imagine what would happen if say Dell or HP or Lenovo installed some crap that we could not remove?
  • Don’t try to trick people into using VZ Navigator at $9.99 a month when the free Google service meets almost everyone’s needs. Yes, you have a few features they don’t. But, for most people, nothing worth paying for.
  • People know they can create their own ringtones on their computer or using something like Ring Droid from the market. Don’t try to confuse them into buying them from you.

Do you think I want these applications cluttering my app drawer, using my memory, and sometimes running and using my limited RAM?

Not even a little bit.



(This first part about Android skins could apply to HTC with their Sense and Samsung with their TouchWiz as well). So, you don’t believe your hardware is enough of a differentiator. You believe you need to differentiate yourselves with a software “Skin” (MotoBlur or just Blur). Well, here’s some news on that: For technical phone users it just pisses us off and for non-technical folks they don’t even notice the difference. Like with some of these Verizon apps above – if you think Blur is a great differentiator, offer it in the Android Market for other devices and make a few bucks on it. If it is really that wonderful, some people running Nexus devices will buy it. Maybe a couple running HTC and Samsung devices might too. There would be your differentiator right there. The only problem? Oh, yeah – we hate Blur.

Looking at Blur, what does it bring to the table on the Droid 3?

  • Lots of bugs. Here’s just a couple of samples:
    • Won’t show pictures of contacts when dialing using Google Voice
    • AirPlane mode causes random reboots and if you have WiFi and BlueTooth off you can’t even exit AirPlane mode without rebooting
    • Camera app that doesn’t allow the user to set white balance for outdoors, fluorescent lights, incandescent lights, etc. and causes most indoor pictures to have a terrible blue tint.
    • SMS timestamps, even on restore from backup, are the time received and not the time sent
    • Home screen redraw lags (caused by Blur high memory usage and device low RAM)
    • Undocking from the media dock causes automatic brightness to be turned off
  • Nice widgets for favorite contacts and calendar
  • Slow performance

I don’t think anyone minds Motorola spending time developing Blur. However, you should separate this from the hardware device and either:

  • Pre-install it, but allow removal
  • Don’t install it at all, but put it in the Android Market. Possibly free for Motorola devices and with a charge for other devices?

Oh, and you should take the few widgets that people do like and make them into real widgets that can be used by all launchers. Sell them in the market if you want.

Both Verizon and Motorola

It is pretty clear with the popularity of replacement ROMs for other devices that users don’t like being tied to this pre-installed junk. We’d really like the ability to run AOSP (Android Open Source Project) deliverables plus the Google apps and Android Market. This should be easy for you to do. If you simply give us an option to choose “Blur + Verizon Bloat” (you can call it something like “Motorola and Verizon enhanced experience” as I know your marketers would want to promote it) or “AOSP” we’d mostly be happy (obviously there is a smaller niche who would still want custom ROMs but less folks would need to try unsupported / unsupportable methods if you offered a working AOSP we could use). Offering us AOSP + Market would allow those of us who want this better experience to have it without warranty killers like overclocking, etc. that come with some of the other ROMs.

Don’t just think about it – make this happen, and do it now.