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Bloatware Fail

The other week European carrier Vodafone built up their HTC Desire-using customers about an Android 2.2 Froyo update but pulled a bait-and-switcharoo and instead hit them with an AT&T-esque bloatware bundle slap upside the head full of Vodafone-branded array of social networking apps, icons and bookmarks.

Needless to say this pissed a lot of their customers off who had been salivating for Froyo’s speed, hotspotting, HD video, flash, the whole deal, and many of them got loud and articulated their anger. Here’s where it gets interesting. Vodafone halted the crapware rollout, issuing a statement:

“What happened last week was that we issued a software update for HTC Desire users for Vodafone 360. The current operating system for the HTC Desire is Android 2.1, but many users believed that the update would contain Android 2.2. We listened to customer feedback and we initially suspended the rollout of the update following some performance complaints.However, we also then looked at other feedback and took a decision to stop rolling out that particular update. Instead, in the future we will offer customers two updates. The first will be a rollout of vanilla Android 2.2, once we have carried out appropriate testing to make sure it doesn’t cause any problems on our network or handsets. At a later date we will offer users a Vodafone 360 update, but we will give users a choice. That wasn’t clear to users in the download message this time… We will let you know when the date for delivery of the Android 2.2 update is finalized, but, subject to testing, we expect this to be in 7-10 days time.”

All right Vodafone, high five. You screwed up. But instead of continuing to screw up, not listening to your customers, you did listen to them, you halted the rollout, explained yourself, sort of apologized (?) and pledged to reconcile the situation asap once you’re sure the update your customer’s thought they were installing is copacetic, making that the priority while tabling the bloatware, and then offering to those who want it your bloatware somewhere down the line while clearly identifying it as such. Pat on the ass, you’re forgiven.

You know who doesn’t make an effort when it comes to bloatware to appease their customers either before or after hearing negative feedback? Yes, that would be AT&T. Because Android users have especially delicate feathers over being locked down with bloatware that thanks to your first initial’s location in the alphabet gets listed starting at the top of the menu, you’d think AT&T would maybe cut Android users some slack and either leave the crap off altogether or at least let subscribers uninstall it without having to go on XDA and figure out how to root the phone and flash a custom rom just to clean out all the shitware. Well no, you wouldn’t think that if you’ve been with AT&T long enough to know their MO, but you’d want to think that.

So AT&T, take note of Vodafone, a little case study, how they tried to do what you do, how it made their subscribers feel and how they quickly changed course. What’s the matter with you that you insist on doing the opposite year after year, phone after phone? Knock it off damnit. I’d buy my momma your Samsung Captivate and free her of WinMo but because I don’t want to dishonor her I have to either drop a bundle on another Nexus or spend a day on XDA cleaning the thing up. Help me help my old lady, AT&T. That’s it I’m done.

Doug Simmons