Verizon Sought To Beam Branded Bloatware Straight To Your New Phone, For The Right Price

One of the first things many people do when buying and activating a new smartphone is see which of the pre-installed apps can be uninstalled. Some are useful, of course, and those end up staying, but wireless carriers are notorious for shoving a bunch of unwanted third-party applications onto smartphones. That's not likely to change, and if Verizon gets its way, Android device owners will see even more bloatware.

Verizon's courting potential clients with an offer to install branded apps on its customers' Android homescreens. The cost for doing so would be somewhere between $1 and $2 per affected handset, according to unnamed agency executives who collectively made AdvertistingAge privy to Verizon's plans.


Apparently Verizon's been pitching the idea to advertisers since late last year. The wireless carrier is targeting retail and finance brands, though if a company is willing to pay the asking price, we suspect Verizon would be open to a wide assortment of brands.

This has the potential to affect a lot of people. At present, Verizon is home to about 75 million post-paid smartphone subscribers and activates about 10 million new handsets each quarter. Only Android devices would be part of the program because the carriers are able to customize the open-source platform. Based on comScore's data, over half of all smartphones in the U.S. run Android.

Agency executives believe Verizon is the only carrier doing this. It's an intriguing offer, as it would virtually guarantee a jump in app downloads, though what it wouldn't guarantee is that users would actually open the pre-installed apps.

"If a user is not interested, they just delete it without activating, but you're still billed for it as a brand," said an agency executive who turned down the offer from Verizon.

The other potential deal killer is that the ads aren't targeted towards certain demographics that might be more interested in a particular branded app. That might change at some point, but for now, it's a random gamble for agencies.