Microsoft Stops RIM/iPhone Reimbursements

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog - Tehrani.com
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Microsoft Stops RIM/iPhone Reimbursements

I just learned that Microsoft will stop reimbursing employees for use of non-Windows Mobile devices. I had heard at a dinner with Microsoft employees at ITEXPO last winter in Miami that use of an iPhone at the company is an RGE or resume generating event. So I was surprised that there are iPhone and Blackberry users at the company.

What I find most interesting about the news is the fact that Microsoft has had such a head start in the mobile OS game... If Microsoft employees are not loyal to Windows Mobile, there must be a reason. As a user who carries two devices - one Windows Mobile and one iPhone, I can tell you that I use the Windows Mobile device less and less - I originally thought I would use it more because of the superior keyboard.

One other interesting point is that the well-written article I just read on the matter from Don Reisinger implies Microsoft is doing something smart with this move. I initially thought the opposite as eliminating the use of preferred devices decreases corporate productivity and increases resentment.


Here is an excerpt:

Some are probably wondering why, if Microsoft didn't have any ulterior motives, it would only pay for Windows Mobile devices from now on. It's a fair question. But consider the alternative: headlines would turn from Microsoft shafting employees to Microsoft executives turning their backs on their own platform. Critics would have a field day. And Microsoft press representatives would need to answer questions about the company being cheap, rather than focusing on more pressing issues.

Loyalty, anyone?

There's another element at work that isn't getting enough attention: company loyalty. Although there may not be anything sinister behind Microsoft's decision to stop reimbursing employees who don't use Windows Mobile devices, I do think it can be used to the company's advantage. There's something to be said for supporting the company you work for. In the enterprise, it's a common issue with companies that have poor morale. They're always trying to find ways to make employees happier, so they will spend more time investing in the company, instead of waiting for the company to invest in them. It's business 101.

So, now that Microsoft won't be paying for BlackBerry devices and iPhones, an imaginary line has seemingly been drawn: will you support Microsoft and use a Windows Mobile device or will you thumb your nose at your employer and buy an iPhone? If you want to support other companies, your employer won't pay. But if you do support your employer, your employer will return the favor.

It's an interesting move -- and one that the company probably won't admit to. But it makes sense on many levels. Microsoft needs all the supporters it can get in the mobile space. If its employees are invested in the technology, they will be more willing to do what they can to either improve it (if they work on that team) or promote it. It gives Microsoft a built-in marketing and product development arm that it might not have had before.

At the end of the artier Reisinger seems to agree that this is really not a smart move as he says:

And now all Microsoft needs to do is totally revamp Windows Mobile and make it relevant. That shouldn't be too hard, right? Ehem.

But I suppose he has a point and that is use your own employees as a sounding board to see what is missing from Windows Mobile and fix it. But in my opinion, the best way to accomplish this is to let the free market work. Let employees pick the best device for the way they work and learn from their comments on how to make a more competitive mobile OS. This after all is the best way to get real-world competitive research.



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