South Korea bans unremovable mobile bloatware

Android lovers (or simply S. Korean ones), here’s a piece of good news for you. The South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning has banned the common practice of mobile manufacturers and networks putting un-removable apps on smartphones.

Telcos will now be required to make all pre-installed apps deletable, except for those that enable Wi-Fi connectivity, near-field communication, customer service, and an app store.


“The move aims to rectify an abnormal practice that causes inconvenience to smartphone users and causes unfair competition among industry players,” said the ministry in a Korean-language press release.

It added that users will also benefit from the regulations in terms of battery life and data storage.

We’re unlikely to see similar legislation in the US or the UK. Apple has famously never permitted carriers or networks to pre-install apps on the iPhone, and Android users can remove these apps by rooting and swapping out their handset software for a clean version, though the technical skills required make this a somewhat rare practice.

What does this mean for Samsung and LG?

This means that the manufacturer’s devices will finally have the option of removing all the unnecessary bloat that comes along with it. This will reduce the impact on RAM and increase the amount of available storage – the Galaxy S4 came with just 8.6 GB free out of the promised 16 GB. You can see more about other smartphone devices’ storage values here.

2 Mobile storage space

How they will react is a completely different story. Without doubt, Samsung will appeal this decision, but further from that, it is a wild guess. Being a South Korean company, they will not be abandoning their largest and staunchest fans in South Korea, however, they will not be able to push their bundles of bloat. LG might not decide to appeal – their bloat is on the thinner side anyways, and users have not been kicking up such a big fuss.

It is entirely possible that Samsung will now be looking at a loophole in this ruling even as they prepare for an appeal, as it is quite possible that the appeal will fail. Samsung will be trying to find a way to discourage users from uninstalling (even though they will be allowed to still uninstall it), similar to how Ask tries to confuse end-users to inadvertently install their toolbar during a Java update/installation.

LG on the other hand might not decide to take any major action, as they are less affected by this ruling than Samsung.

How will this impact international consumers?

It remains unclear if this ruling will impact simply South Korean customers or the international ones too. There is a high chance that the court only has jurisdiction over Samsung and LG in S. Korea, and hence international variants of their devices will still be shipping with unremovable bloatware.

On the other hand, if international devices are also affected by this ruling, it can actually turn out quite well. Those who are anti-Samsung might decide to switch to them, or current Samsung users might have their choices affirmed by this ruling.

What do you think? How will this affect your decision to purchase a smartphone?

Source: ArsTechnica

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