Hide Your IPod, Here Comes Bill
Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,66460,00.html
02:00 AM Feb. 02, 2005 PT
Microsoft’s leafy corporate campus in Redmond, Washington, is beginning
to look like the streets of New York, London and just about everywhere
else: Wherever you go, white headphones dangle from peoples’ ears.
To the growing frustration and annoyance of Microsoft’s management,
Apple Computer’s iPod is wildly popular among Microsoft’s workers.
"About 80 percent of Microsoft employees who have a portable music
player have an iPod," said one source, a high-level manager who asked
to remain anonymous. "It’s pretty staggering."
The source estimated 80 percent of Microsoft employees have a music
player — that translates to 16,000 iPod users among the 25,000 who
work at or near Microsoft’s corporate campus. "This irks the management team no end," said the source.
So popular is the iPod, executives are increasingly sending out memos frowning on its use.
Of course, Microsoft’s software is used by dozens of competing music
players from manufacturers like Creative Technology, Rio and Sony. Its
Windows Media Audio, or WMA, format is supported by several online
music stores, including Napster, Musicmatch and Wal-Mart. Microsoft’s PlaysForSure program markets this choice as a boon for consumers.
Nonetheless, Apple’s iPod commands 65 percent of the portable player
market, and its online iTunes Music Store 70 percent of online music
sales, according to Apple.
"These guys are really quite scared," said the source of Microsoft’s
management. "It shows how their backs are against the wall…. Even
though it’s Microsoft, no one is interested in what we have to offer,
even our own employees."
So concerned is management, owning an iPod at Microsoft is beginning
to become impolitic, the manager said. Employees are hiding their iPods
by swapping the telltale white headphones for a less conspicuous pair.
"Some people are a bit concerned about being traitors, not supporting the company," he said. "They’re a bit stealth about it."
Scoble went so far as to address an open letter to Bill Gates suggesting ways Microsoft can develop its answer to the fabulous iPod.