Q&A Bloatware/Bundleware: a marketing point of view

RoboMan

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We, as IT geeks, usually get upset about our security software including or adding unneeded modules, such as PC Cleaner, Registry Optimizer, StartUp fastener; or even some more security-related modules, that we don't really want, such as Password manager, Secure Vault, VPN.

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But, why is this? Surely security companies know we don't like it... don't they? Well, as a matter of fact, they do, but they don't care. Here's some reasons why:

EASIER TO MANTAIN
Software requires maintenance, that's a fact. Bugs appear, new version need to be released. All-in-one software is easier to mantain. Of course, all modules usually get separate care, but after all, it's just one big software, one final executable, one final new version. It's just simpler this way.

SELLS BETTER
It's difficult for one company to sell six individual products to a customer. Even if they're USD 5 each. Nobody wants to deal with six different transactions, six different serial numbers. But, what about one single transaction, for one single multi-product? That already sounds better. Suddenly, USD 30 (which is way more expensive that USD 5), for one all-in-one product, which unifies modules, technical support, serial numbers/licenses, transactions, sounds like a good deal.

MORE CONVENIENT
It's just better for users to handle one product instead of several products. Average users prefer to look for one product which can do all they want, instead of searching for all the six programs that do individual tasks. Fact is: average users don't care and don't want to care about privacy and security, so one general product that satisfies all their needs, it's a sale!

ALLOWS COMPANIES TO CHARGE EXTRA
Imagine you're the average Joe looking for an antivirus product. You search "best antivirus 2022" in Google, and all ads come up, companies promising you the best protection. You think Avast offers the best product for you (because their website said they're the best, also they claim they won so many prizes, they must be good). You're about to buy the Internet Security version for USD 30, but suddenly you see right next to it a comparison, where Avast says that for USD 15 more (only 50% more of what you're paying!) you can get all these:
  • Registry Cleaner: clean your registry and gain speed on your Windows 10!
  • Startup Optimizer: make your PC start faster!
  • VPN: you're being spied right now!! With this, you will be private!!
  • Password Manager: without this, your passwords will be public in 5 days or less! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, 5 DAYS!!
You're now thinking: well, USD 30 for basic protection... or USD 45 for a complete, secure and private experience. Suddenly, it's not a waste of money, you're investing into your well being. You have just been fooled by the marketing team.

FINAL WORDS
That's correct, companies don't care about the IT experts/geeks. We're the minority. Their databases are made of mostly ignorant, average users, that don't know and don't care to know more. Scareware is usually the main tactic IT companies use to sell these products, and they're efficient. Therefore, this is the path for most products.

Hopefully, you've understood the marketing point-of-view for the bundled antivirus software.

What are your opinions on these kind of antivirus?
 
Dec 12, 2021
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One of the few reasons I no longer trust AV companies anymore, they have become what they swore to destroy, their target audience is the more tech-illiterate/average joe type of people, as they know they can fill them with lies to get them to buy something thats just snake oil, or providing them with false sense of security.

Its precisely why I like Windows Defender, its bare bones, straight forward, no nagging or outlandish claims, and does its job well enough if you keep your system up to date, avoid shady sites, use an adblocker and have just the slightest bit of common sense, latter of which no antivirus can replace
 
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SecureKongo

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Kind of a sad reality and I totally agree with @ScandinavianFish
I personally also think that the big improvements of Microsoft Defender over the last few years also had a big impact on the occurance of fully bloated security suites. The AV module alone doesn't bring enough money anymore as Microsoft Defender is replacing many third-party AVs on peoples system nowadays. Thats just speculation on my part but it seems pretty likely to me.
 

oldschool

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Indeed, most people want simplicity that doesn't require technical ability. I have a friend who does pretty big-time motivational, goal-driven corporate consulting, much like Wendy Rhoades on "Billions". She has used AVG for years because she can't be bothered with tech - in spite of her intelligence. She's a woman on the go and trusts that she's working safely without a second thought.
 

geminis3

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I prefer to avoid AV companies that employ scareware or adware-like practices to sell their products, I think that's why most people have switched to Windows Defender over the last years however there are still AV companies with more ethical principles such as Emsisoft or F-Secure.
 
Dec 12, 2021
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I prefer to avoid AV companies that employ scareware or adware-like practices to sell their products, I think that's why most people have switched to Windows Defender over the last years however there are still AV companies with more ethical principles such as Emsisoft or F-Secure.
Exclude F-secure as they have an VPN, they, like all companies selling VPN's, use misleading claims with (the standard "complete privacy" stuff)
 

Shadowra

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Sep 2, 2021
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The problem with bloatware is that it goes unnoticed by antivirus scanners.
Are they afraid of being sued for blocking? That's what I think.
Only Emsisoft and ESET seem to detect them anyway, even in case of lawsuits.

For Antivirus that integrate bloatwares, Avira and even Avast, it's disturbing but I'm not surprised anymore in 2022.
Publishers want to make money at all costs.
Still those are easily removable (Avast with Chrome, Avira with its software etc.), but there are "repack" download sites that do not hesitate to bombard you!
Whether it is Bytefense, Boxore etc. ... A nice cocktail...

To avoid this, there is a small software named Unchecky which unchecks them for you and also explains them to you, it is very educational :)

 

SecureKongo

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The problem with bloatware is that it goes unnoticed by antivirus scanners.
Are they afraid of being sued for blocking? That's what I think.
Only Emsisoft and ESET seem to detect them anyway, even in case of lawsuits.

For Antivirus that integrate bloatwares, Avira and even Avast, it's disturbing but I'm not surprised anymore in 2022.
Publishers want to make money at all costs.
Still those are easily removable (Avast with Chrome, Avira with its software etc.), but there are "repack" download sites that do not hesitate to bombard you!
Whether it is Bytefense, Boxore etc. ... A nice cocktail...

To avoid this, there is a small software named Unchecky which unchecks them for you and also explains them to you, it is very educational :)

Unchecky has been abandoned years ago sadly. I don’t know how effective it is nowadays tho.
 

geminis3

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Whether it is Bytefense, Boxore etc. ... A nice cocktail...
I still remember PSafe Total (rebranded Qihoo 360) that came bundled on installers from all kinds of cracked and freeware software websites, it was one of the few antivirus whose headquarters are in latin america (specifically from Brazil).

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They even had their own version of Qihoo 360 Browser

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Nowadays they're focused on the Android market with the dfndr brand.

 

Shadowra

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I still remember PSafe Total (rebranded Qihoo 360) that came bundled on installers from all kinds of cracked and freeware software websites, it was one of the few antivirus whose headquarters are in latin america (specifically from Brazil).

View attachment 263336

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They even had their own version of Qihoo 360 Browser

View attachment 263337

Nowadays they're focused on the Android market with the dfndr brand.


I don't know PSafe... Interesting....
 

show-Zi

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If any one company achieves results with such a sales method, I think it is unavoidable for rival companies to imitate it. It's an easy strategy to appeal a deal.
It resembles the mindset of old audiophiles. We look forward to choosing our own amps, tuners and players. However, light users who simply want to listen to music may find the choice not fun but annoying.
 

roger_m

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I'm using 360 Total Security, which comes with plenty of bloatware, and I don't mind. It's a rare case where the publisher has actually put some effort into the extras. For example, the speedup function does a good job of recommending unneeded startup items and services to disable. The junk cleaner can find a lot of junk to clean, because it is able to clean junk from a lot of third party apps. Sure, neither of those modules are needed in security software, but at least in this case they work well. I often see security software having a very basic junk cleaner which does not work well and, as a result, seems like a pointless addition.

It's worth noting that despite the included bloatware, 360 TS is on the lightest antiviruses there is. I say this because I see posts from people thinking it must be heavy due to the bloat, but that's definitely not the case. In this case, I'm more concerned about the ads in the free version than the bloatware.