Microsoft Faces Backlash Over iPhone-Only Policy, Restricting China Employees From Using Android Phones

By Thea Felicity

Jul 10, 2024 01:16 PM EDT

Microsoft Faces Backlash Over iPhone-Only Policy That Bans China Staff from Using Android Phones
Pedestrians walk past Microsoft's local headquarters in Beijing on July 20, 2021, the day after the US accused Beijing of carrying out the cyber attack on Microsoft and charged four Chinese nationals over the "malicious" hack in March.
(Photo : NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Microsoft has recently ordered a directive requiring all mainland China-based employees to use iPhones only, as reported by Bloomberg, sparking backlash from Chinese social media. 

The transition affects hundreds of Microsoft employees in China, who can no longer use Android phones from brands like Xiaomi, Huawei, and OnePlus for work purposes.

Specifically, users expressed nationalist sentiments and questioned Microsoft's reliance on foreign technologies. 

Some commentators suggested exploring domestic alternatives like Huawei's HarmonyOS as a potential solution to reduce dependence on international tech ecosystems.

Microsoft's iPhone-Only Directive in China

According to the South China Morning Post, Microsoft defended their decision and claimed it as a necessity due to the absence of Google's Android services in China. 

The company also responded to comments suggesting it's a way to beat other domestic mobile makers. Instead, Microsoft's reaction was to adapt to the regulatory conditions in China, where all Google Mobile Services have been blocked due to governmental regulations imposed more than ten years ago. 

Microsoft also argued that this move would help boost cybersecurity measures by using specific apps available only on iOS devices.

READ MORE: Microsoft's $1.5 Billion Investment in AI Firm Allegedly Linked to China Raises Security Concerns

Microsoft's Presence in China

Microsoft, which has maintained a significant presence in China since 1992, has adapted its operations to comply with data security regulations imposed by Beijing. 

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, also clarified the company's position during recent inquiries by US lawmakers regarding national security concerns. 

Smith emphasized that China constitutes only a small fraction of Microsoft's global revenue and disclosed plans to relocate hundreds of mainland-based AI specialists to other markets.

Earlier this year, VCPost reported that the Biden administration is losing its trust in Microsoft for allowing Chinese hackers to infiltrate the emails of US officials successfully.

READ NEXT: Biden Administration Blames Microsoft for Allowing Chinese Hackers Into US Officials' Emails

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