Samsung promises more bloatware, but now you can delete it

24 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple, Samsung get into a discount battle on Amazon; cos sell 1L iPhone 5c & Galaxy S4 units.

If it can’t sell customers on Windows, Microsoft’s Plan B has been to bring its services to other platforms. SAN FRANCISCO — Samsung’s decision to start pre-installing Microsoft Office apps on some tablets would seem, at first glance, to be more of a short-term win for shareholders of the U.S. software giant than owners of the Korean mobile device maker.In a bid to get Microsoft’s mobile apps into as many hands as possible, the company is teaming up with unlikely allies: Companies that make smartphones powered by Android software.

Given the fatter profit margins in software, any market share growth that may come from the deal would boost the bottom line of Microsoft more than Samsung. Samsung and Microsoft, fresh off the battlefield from a patent skirmish, have made peace and are partnering to bring more Office apps to Android devices. Yet the details of the agreement announced Monday shine a light on the biggest challenge Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella faces as he begins his second year at the helm: Trying to protect a market lead during a major technology transition, as productivity software programs used on workplace PCs are replaced by mobile applications. Last month, Samsung unveiled a new Galaxy flagship smartphone that came with a pre-installed digital folder containing Microsoft apps including file-sharing software OneDrive and voice-calling service Skype.

In a joint press release on Monday, Samsung agreed to bundle Microsoft’s Office apps, Skype, and OneDrive on select Android tablets sometime in the first half of 2015. That market reality is why Nadella, a veteran insider of the tech giant, is willing to distribute for free what the company has traditionally charged a hefty price for.

On Monday, Microsoft and Samsung announced an enlarged partnership that will mean even more of Samsung’s Android phones and tablets will come with Microsoft apps, in some cases including Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office productivity software suite. Companies that sign up for Samsung’s “business-to-business sales channels” will gain access to Office 365, Microsoft’s Web-based suite of programs. The news follows Samsung’s decision earlier this month to pre-install Microsoft’s Skype video-calling software and several Internet-based business applications on the Galaxy S6, its latest smartphone.

Office 365 Business, Business Premium, and Enterprise will operate using Samsung’s KNOX Business Pack, a security feature that makes it safer to switch from professional to personal accounts. Thanks to these agreements, Nadella will have Office apps and so-called cloud services on devices built by the 2014 global smartphone leader within a few months. It is estimated that the two companies have sold almost 1 lakh units together on Amazon – the highest ever for these models through a single point of sales. “It’s a strategic move by Apple and Samsung to focus on two of the fastest-growing smartphone segments where their presence has been limited,” said Tarun Pathak, a senior analyst at Counterpoint Research.

There is no word on if the smart phones will get the Microsoft Office experience, but owners will have access to 100 GB of additional free cloud storage for two years on OneDrive. While that could prove true someday, a more likely benefit in the near term is whatever amount of marketing dollars Microsoft may be willing to pay to get on the home screen of Samsung devices. Microsoft has had trouble gaining traction in the mobile market, but its multiple partnerships with Android devicemakers should give it more exposure.

In porting Microsoft apps over to the two major smartphone platforms, Nadella has essentially blanketed the market for productivity-software apps sold (or given away) to mobile consumers. More such online-only deals are expected this year and we expect e-commerce contribution to overall smartphone sales in India to touch 30% this year from 15% in 2014,” said Pathak. It’s a bold grab for the loyalty of business-minded users, yet it comes in a smartphone market where the dominant operating systems are Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, not Windows.

The flipside, however, is that Android users, long used to living without Office, may see its sudden appearance as bloatware, even if they can uninstall it. Screenshots uploaded to the XDA Developers forum last week showed that a user can disable or delete almost any app, including Samsung’s S Health and S Voice and several Google apps such as YouTube, Gmail, Google+, and even the Google Play Store. That lack of market power – combined with the prevailing belief among mobile consumers that apps should be free or nearly so – helps explain Nadella’s pricing strategy.

As a result, Nadella has overseen the transformation of cash-cow products like Microsoft Office into apps for the iPad and free apps for Android and iPhone smartphones. A little over a year ago, Satya Nadella took the CEO chair at Microsoft promising a “mobile first, cloud first” mission that would use software to tie devices together. When a long-term market transition happens in a core market, profit margins are headed south, and the Office franchise has been a major cash cow for Microsoft for more than two decades. Over time, Nadella has made clear that those devices don’t necessarily need to be powered by a Microsoft operating system. “For OEMs, these deals will increase the value of and enrich people’s experiences on Android devices,” Peggy Johnson, the executive vice president of business development for Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.

Yet they’ve also bounced off near-term lows, suggesting some Microsoft bulls have kept faith that Nadella can find a way to one day make a profit on software that he’s now giving away. Johnson was responsible for striking the pre-installed apps deals, which she said could lead to more consumer usage of other Microsoft software. “If we can engage [consumers] and get them pleased with the usage on their device, they’ll turn around and say, ‘Well, what else do you have, Microsoft?” Johnson said in an interview Monday. Following the Superfish debacle at Lenovo, PCWorld dug into the software preloaded on many retail PCs, determining the worst PC makers for shipping bloatware. She said the mobile arrangements with Samsung were “an expansion of our existing relationship.” Companies typically pay makers of personal computers and mobile phones to include their software on those devices.

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