Microsoft won't pay your Apple iPhone fees

Microsoft has stopped reimbursing employees for Apple iPhone or RIM BlackBerry data plans. In IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches bloggers laugh at the news and at employees forced to use Windows Mobile.

But then we wondered if it's really a cost-cutting measure, or something more sinister.

Not to mention ShatnerShatnerShatnerShatnerShatnerShatnerShatnerShatner...

Dan Frommer had the inside line:

Microsoft's (MSFT) cost-cutting measures drove it to lay off thousands of employees. As expected, it also led to some perks being discontinued for its remaining employees. ... Microsoft won't pay for its employees' Apple (AAPL) iPhone data service plans anymore, even if they're used significantly for work purposes. Nor will it pay for Research In Motion (RIMM) BlackBerry service, or a new Palm Pre. Instead, it will only reimburse data plans for Microsoft Windows Mobile-powered smartphones.
For many Microsoft employees who use their devices to do company work on the road, it no doubt feels like a shafting. Compared to the iPhone, new BlackBerry software, or even Google (GOOG) Android, today's Windows Mobile is clunky and unappealing.

John Oates flexes the snark:

If employees want to hang onto the devices they'll have to pay for their own data subscriptions. Redmond will only pick up the bill for a Windows Mobile device - not Palm, not Android, not RIM and certainly not any Mac-based gadgets.
We can only assume Microsoft hasn't heard Forrester's latest research which suggests iPhone users are just better than the rest of us. iPhoners are younger, richer and better educated than users of ordinary smartphones. But Microsoft's beancounters could be on to something - iPhone users also spend more on data services than ordinary mortals with normal smartphones.

James Hall weeps for the poor, penniless Microsofties:

This is likely to strike many Microsoft employees as more than a bit unfair. Many rely on their plans to get vital work done for the company--and, if the company simply must cut data plan subsidies, they should, many would argue, cut them for everyone instead of just those who do not use Microsoft products.

Someone please explain carrier subsidies to Stefan Constantinescu

This brings up a question: why do some smartphones cost more than others to own per month? I never understood this. BlackBerry I understand since they require an extra server component to work, but the iPhone or the Palm (NSDQ: PALM) Pre, or any other smartphone, why is it that depending on the device you use, an operator can charge you more or less.

Smells like **** to me, and I know it smells like **** to AT&T users out there too who have friends with cheaper bills simply because their device has the $19.99 unlimited data plan, versus the $29.99 unlimited data plan.

But Tricia Duryee sayes Microsoft is, "Hiding behind the ruse of cost-cutting":

Melinda Gates ... admitted in Vogue’s March issue that iPhones and iPods are not allowed in their household. But also, we knew the devices, along with BlackBerries, were not allowed in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, either.
The problem with this is that Microsoft has given employees very few Windows Mobile options. Currently, the operating system is in limbo, waiting for the newer Windows Mobile 6.5 to come out later this year, and Windows Mobile 7 next year. If an employee is buying a new phone right now, they’ll be forced to buy the older OS, and then upgrade in just a few short months, and again next year, if they want the latest technology (and what good Microsoft employee doesn’t want the latest technology?).

John Gruber is more succinct:

On the one hand, it surprises me that Microsoft ever paid for service for non-Windows phones. But on the other hand, man, look at what a piece of **** Windows Mobile is today.

So what's your take?
If you can afford it, leave a comment.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter or FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email.

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