That’s a telling and interesting move, and it raises an important question.
It’s a telling move because it underscores what everyone already knows, which is that Microsoft wouldn’t have a hope in hell of getting its employees to use Windows 7 phones unless they gave them the phones for free.
(Alternatively, Microsoft could have required employees to use these phones, but that would have triggered storm-clouds of awful PR, and it would have led to ongoing and embarrassing tales of black-market use of other phones within the company. Much better to seem magnanimous and GIVE employees free phones and keep your fingers crossed that they actually use them).
It’s an interesting move because Apple only gives employees an employee discount on Apple stuff (15%, if memory serves), and most of them step up and buy the stuff anyway. Microsoft presumably knew that giving employees a 15% discount on Windows 7 phones wouldn’t have led to many sales. *UPDATE: Microsoft just alerted us to the fact that Apple gave all employees a free iPhone, so there is precedent for this.
Third, there’s the important question: Now that they will be GIVEN a Windows 7 phone for free, what percentage of Microsoft folks will actually choose to use this phone over an iPhone or Android phone (or BlackBerry)?
Someone gave us a free, brand-new high-end BlackBerry recently. We were very appreciative–those things cost real money! We were also briefly nostalgic for the days when we used to use a BlackBerry. But we knew the moment we saw it that we would never use it. And, as expected, it has sat in the bottom of our satchel, unused, ever since.
So it’s time to place bets, folks.
Six months after Microsoft gives all of its employees Windows 7 phones, what percentage of Microsofties will still be using them?
If the gift is just the hardware, we bet the answer is fewer than a third. If the gift includes all the monthly charges, then maybe the answer will be two-thirds to three-quarters. But even then we bet that a very significant percentage of Microsofties will still be sneaking some iPhone or Android or BlackBerry on the side.