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SEOUL – South Korea’s smartphone users will be allowed to prune unwanted preinstalled mobile applications, a measure that will give them more data storage, the country’s communications ministry said Thursday.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said it will apply new guidelines on preinstalled apps to local industry players starting in April.
“The move aims to normalize an abnormal practice that causes inconvenience to smartphone users and cause unfair competition among industry players,” the ministry said in the release.
Under the new guidelines, mobile carriers must make most of their preinstalled apps deletable except for four necessary items related to Wi-Fi connection, client center, near-field communication (NFC) and app store.
Currently, SK Telecom Co., the No. 1 mobile carrier, installs 25 default apps on Samsung’s Galaxy S4, followed by LG Uplus Corp.’s 18 and KT Corp. with 16, the ministry’s data showed.
Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. will also be forced to reduce more than half of their nearly 40 preinstalled apps. The ministry said it was in talks with Google Inc. to apply the guidelines on their apps also.
Users must be provided with detailed information about how much data the preinstalled apps take up and be shown the exact remaining data space, the ministry said.
The move is the first of its kind among the global communications regulators, it added.
The guidelines will be applied to all newly launched devices starting in April and exclude models released prior to that month.
The ministry added it will continue to have talks with local smartphone manufactures, mobile carriers and Google to reflect industry players’ opinions and track the policy’s effectiveness.