Last September Steve Ballmer sent out a pretty clear message when he pretended to smash an employee's iPhone. Ballmer was reportedly running around, whooping, waving and shouting. When an employee tried to take his picture with an iPhone, the CEO took it from him, made some funny remarks while everyone else booed and then put it on the floor and pretended to stomp on it. The device was fine; Ballmer was just teasing after all. But how do iPhone-toting Microsofties feel about flashing their phones now?
This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a report about iPhone use at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters. Roughly 10 percent of Microsoft staff are said to be using Apple's iPhone and apparently, some of them go a long way to hide it.
WSJ reports that while many of them don't care who sees them tapping away on their iPhones in the lobby, the cafeteria or even the conference room, there are those who definitely don't want their devices being seen.
While rank-and-file workers tend to use the iPhone openly around peers, some conceal them within sight of more senior executives. One Microsoft worker said he knows several colleagues who try to disguise their iPhones with cases that make them look more like generic handsets.
"Maybe once a year I'm in a meeting with Steve Ballmer," said this employee. "It doesn't matter who's calling, I'm not answering my phone."
Though a few executives at Microsoft have said staff members often use rival products to better understand the competition, recent statements made by COO Kevin Turner counter their reasoning. Turner made it clear that "what's good for the field is good for Redmond." It seems Steve Ballmer agrees. If his aversion to iPhones was not made clear enough back in September, Ballmer echoed Turner's comments about company loyalty. Ballmer says that when he was growing up, his father worked for Ford, and his family always drove Fords.