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Apple will not allow Verizon to preload software on iPhone

New iPhone users on Verizon's network won't find preloaded carrier software on their phones, but will be able to download carrier-specific apps from iTunes.

According to a report by Ars Technica, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller told members of the press that there would be no software pre-installed by Verizon.

Verizon has been a leading proponent of bundled software on its mobile phones, a practice users often deride as "crapware." In addition to forcing its own V CAST mobile music and app store and Navigator subscription GPS software, Verizon has also partnered with others to include apps for things that users can't remove without rooting their BlackBerry and Android phones.

Verizon's preinstalled apps, often installed on the phone's front page for maximum effect and difficult for users remove, include Microsoft's Bing app, Amazon's Kindle and MP3 store apps, a Backup Assistant, an unpopular Blockbuster app, a "nagware" title called City ID which repeatedly asks users to sign up for a $2 per month subscription, and a Skype client.

Verizon has also automatically added additional difficult to remove software in Android's "over the air" updates, recently installing Adobe Flash and demo copies of a game in a December OS update.

No crapware

Other carriers, including AT&T, do the same, although Apple doesn't allow any carrier to force apps to users on new iPhones or as updates. That's a policy neither Google, nor RIM, nor Microsoft, nor Nokia has copied on their own mobile platforms, although Google has attempted to release "Nexus" branded Android models without carrier crapware.

Not bundling crapware was reportedly a contentious issue between Apple and Verizon in the past, as the apps provide Verizon with significant revenues. Apple has long resisted similar bundles of preloaded nagware apps on Macs, in contrast to the crapware dripping from most Windows PCs.

"We want the experience to be the same for every iPhone user," Schiller told the press at Verizon's iPhone launch event. "So there are no special Verizon apps preinstalled. AT&T offers customers some apps via the App Store. I'll let Verizon comment if they are working on anything for that."

In its FAQ, Verizon notes that "iPhone will have the 3G Mobile Hotspot app pre-installed, and it will also have other popular apps available in the market such as VZ Navigator, and V CAST Media Manager."

Verizon already set up for WiFi Tethering

The "3G Mobile Hotspot" is not actually an app, but rather a new built in feature of the iOS that enables 3G network sharing (tethering) over WiFi, in addition to the system's existing support for Bluetooth and USB tethering. The feature is packaged as an app on other platforms Verizon carries.

"We did the hotspot feature because it's something Verizon offers," Schiller said. "They have a system and specs for it in place. We can't say if it will come to AT&T."

Multiple sites have suggested the WiFi tethering feature, also called "personal hotspot," will roll out everywhere as part of the upcoming iOS 4.3.

WiFi Tethering for AT&T?

AT&T notoriously dragged its heels in providing initial Bluetooth and USB tethering (and MMS) support for iPhone users for months of 2009 and into 2010, long after Apple added the capability to iOS 3.0.

With WiFi tethering now suddenly supported in the new version of iOS running on the Verizon phone, it appears that the new feature wasn't held up by technical reasons at Apple, but rather simply because AT&T didn't have a network capable of supporting it.

AT&T may decide, as it did earlier with both MMS and Bluetooth tethering, that it can't support the Wifi tethering feature, regardless of its availability in iOS. Adding "personal hotspot" WiFi tethering as a feature of the iPhone and iPad would all but destroy the business model behind selling 3G service plans for the iPad to existing iPhone users.