Channel partners with close ties to Microsoft are generally reluctant to admit to using products from Microsoft's archenemies. However, the appeal of Apple's iPhone is apparently becoming too strong for some Microsoft partners to resist.
ChannelWeb recently spoke with several Microsoft Gold partners—some of whom have been using the iPhone for months, others who bought one after last week's launch of the 3G iPhone—who had nothing but good things to say about the most-talked-about mobile device in history.
"I have to be honest: The iPhone is an amazing device, and I'm not sure I'll be going back to a Windows Mobile device anytime soon," said one Microsoft partner, who asked not to be named.
Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, a Fairfax, Va.-based Microsoft Gold partner, doesn't think Microsoft is overly sensitive about its partners using Macs and iPhones. "The iPhone is just a killer device and is by far the most pleasant-to-use device I've ever used. And I've carried many Windows Mobile and Palm devices," he said.
The addition of Exchange support to the iPhone is already benefiting Microsoft from a licensing standpoint, according to Sobel.
"I always remind [Microsoft] that ActiveSync [synchronization technology that links mobile devices with desktop PCs and servers] is licensed from Microsoft," Sobel said. "So it's definitely not a bad thing for Microsoft to have the iPhone talking to Exchange."
Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder, isn't surprised that Microsoft partners are taking a fancy to the glittering new iPhone.
"I know that I, and many other Microsoft partners, would ditch Windows Vista in a heartbeat for OSX if we could only be allowed to install it on our own hardware. So the fact that some would prefer to use the iPhone over a Windows Mobile device isn't the least bit ironic to me," Kretzer said.
Another Microsoft partner who recently bought a 3G iPhone says it has significant battery life limitations and needs to be recharged daily. But the overall user experience "blows Windows Mobile out of the water," said the source.
"Windows Mobile just doesn't work as well. For whatever reason, Windows Mobile phones don't have enough memory, so if you switch from browser to the phone, they crash. I have to reboot mine a minimum of two times a week, and often more," said the source.