About 10 percent of Microsoft's employees worldwide use an iPhone, made by arch-rival Apple, The Wall Street Journal reports, and CEO Steve Ballmer isn't happy about it. He fake-stomped on an underling's iPhone at a company-wide meeting last year, and, while employees continue to furtively worship their iPhones, he has made it known that company loyalty is in his blood — his dad worked at Ford, his family drove only Fords. But is it fair, or even smart, to force iPhone-loving workers to use Windows Phone handsets? (Watch Steve Ballmer laugh off the iPhone)
Microsoft's best option is to make a better phone: What's Ballmer to do? asks Chris Davies at SlashGear. Buying Windows-based smart phones for its workforce would be "fiscally irresponsible," and forcing the workers to buy them would mean a lawsuit. If Microsoft wants its employees to "drink the Windows Mobile Kool-Aid," it has to make the upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform better than the iPhone.
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Microsoft should encourage iPhone use: The best way to beat Apple in mobile phones is to understand why people like it, says P.J. Louis at the Gerson Lehrman Group. And employees are the "best primary market research that money cannot buy." That's why using a competitor's product is commonplace in the tech market. The "forbidden fruit" story may be funny, but it shouldn't be news.
This "Don't ask, don't tell" story is exaggerated: On the surface, this saga of forbidden love is quite moving, says Dan Nosowitz in Gizmodo. "Like a gay man in the army, iPhone users [at Microsoft] are not always free to be open with their love." Unfortunately, it's only "barely" true: J. Allard, one of Microsoft's founding masterminds, is "an avowed iPhone user," and the WSJ itself reports that "Despite Mr. Ballmer's theatrics, iPhone users are in plain sight at Microsoft."
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