Does Yahoo Becoming An iPhone-Only Company Even Matter?

Does Yahoo Becoming An iPhone-Only Company Even Matter?

Does it really matter if Marissa Mayer wants everyone at Yahoo to use an iPhone?

Apparently Marissa Mayer wants everyone at Yahoo to use an iPhone and she may be willing to spend some of Yahoo’s cash to buy everyone in the company an iPhone if that’s what it takes. The move would be unusual on a couple of different fronts and it would buck some of the trends popular in the Internet and technology industries as well as in mainstream business. The biggest question isn’t what this means for Yahoo – it’s  what will consumers and the industry think about her an Yahoo if she does

As Business Insider points out, the possible move isn’t too surprising to many technology industry insiders. Mayer was known to use an iPhone even we she worked at Google. But there’s a difference between be an executive that prefers an iPhone and being one that dictates that the entire staff of a company must also use one.

If the reports are true and this is Mayer’s plan, it bucks the consumerization and bring your own device trends that have become popular across every industry including tech companies. That isn’t alone enough to say that this is a bad idea, but it definitely warrants a few raised eyebrows.

Lets take a look at the advantages to standardizing Yahoo around the iPhone.

First up, it ensures modern technology use with a pretty easy to manage support system. IT only needs to support one mobile platform and that platform. That platform offers predictable upgrades and patches and it only runs on handful of variations in device hardware. From an IT and support perspective, that’s a huge potential cost saver.

It also allows Yahoo to identify itself with Apple and iOS. That could be a marketing goldmine with an angle like “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Whether or not Apple would support or even allow that type of marketing is, of course, an open question.

It builds morale. If Mayer waits until the iPhone 5 is released she’ll probably earn a lot of political capital if she approves Yahoo buying every employee the newest iPhone on the market. She stands to earn even more if she decides Yahoo should pay part of the monthly bill for LTE data service for employees.

It demonstrates that she’s willing to make bold decisions. There are any number of ways that she could do that, but standardizing on the iPhone is one that has limited potential for Wall Street backlash. At worst she looks like a hardcore Apple fan. That’s better than blazing a trail of massive acquisitions or restructuring that might come back to haunt her.

If she directs Yahoo developers to create a range of internal iOS apps that leverage social and gamification techniques, the iPhone as a standard could encourage a sense of community and good-natured competition between employees.

There are also some major downsides.

Mayer and Yahoo could be accused of being a pawn in Apple’s pocket or even on a secret payroll to support iOS and not Android. The move could also be considered anti-competitive and seen as giving Apple and iOS favoritism over Android, RIM’s BlackBerry/Touch Pad/BlackBerry 10 lineup, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 (along with Windows 8 and Windows RT devices).

It could lead to the perception that Yahoo doesn’t have the ability or desire to compete across all major platforms.

It could be seen as an absurd corporate extravagance to invest so much money in supplying iPhones when workers are willing to buy their own devices for use in the office.

The ultimate point, however, is that it really doesn’t matter whether Mayer is insistent on making Yahoo and iOS-first or iOS-only company. It doesn’t matter if standardizing on the iPhone is good fiscal policy or provides tangible mobile security and management benefits. It doesn’t even matter what impact the decision has on Yahoo’s mobile development strategy. In the end, such a move will be judged good or bad (or both) by a lot of technology pundits and columnists and consumers who have no real insight into the decision or its immediate or near-term impact on Yahoo as a company.

  • mr_bee

    No offence, but most of your “downsides” strike me as juvenile and not of any real consequence.

    The shortest path to success for Yahoo! (stupid name), is indeed cosying up to Apple. The biggest problem Yahoo! faces is the fact that they have so much old-school tech and that their entire image is associated with the Internet of the early 90’s. Trying to be the partner to Apple that Google *should* have been, is actually an excellent strategy and possibly the only winning one.

    This lady is very smart if that’s what she’s thinking.

  • Dulaney_Solar

    One smart and beautiful ex-Google Lady!
    MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps she just wants the best possible smartphones for her employees.

  • Steffen Jobbs

    Good for Apple and Apple shareholders. I’m all for it. A few years back, if Yahoo had chosen to go with all BlackBerries, probably no one would have batted an eyelash. Obviously, when companies all went with Windows OS and Windows PCs, nobody made a stink about the alternatives that didn’t get chosen. How do you think Windows became the biggest tech company? Every corporation FORCED employees to use Windows computers.

    Yahoo going with the iPhone is going to be over-analyzed to death. It’s been said that the iPhone is probably the best smartphone on the market and if she wants to give her employees the best available, then that should be accepted as a good move. I don’t exactly see how that’s taking sides with Apple, but that’s probably just my oversight. I don’t get it. Nearly no consumers are being forced to buy Apple products and Apple has still become a successful and wealthy company. Yet there are so many Apple haters trying to take away their success for all sorts of petty reasons.

  • Jason Knowlton

    Most companies choose a brand / model and purchase that. We do, when we buy new phones, its all the same make / model just because its easier to support than having people have 20 different phones, in fact, if they provide business phones it just makes sense to have one model.

    Same with my old company, they switched from Blackberry to iPhone, whats the problem? They couldnt find a consistent Android device they liked.

  • thegraphicmac

    “The move could also be considered anti-competitive and seen as giving Apple and iOS favoritism over Android, RIM’s BlackBerry/Touch Pad/BlackBerry 10 lineup, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 (along with Windows 8 and Windows RT devices).”

    What the hell are you babbling about? They already provide employees with a Blackberry for company use. How would switching to iPhone suddenly become anti-competitive? If that’s the case, then virtually every company in America that provides a cell phone to employees would find themselves in a lawsuit over it.

  • Formigaman

    Just as Apple demands excellence, so should Cult of Mac. The fact that it appears as if no one proofread this article before publication, upsets me. I come to this website to be informed by professionals, not people who cannot construct a proper sentence. Take the time to have someone proofread your articles!

  • seaaalex

    All I can think about when I see Marissa is her weird laugh ….

  • gorbag42

    Google is a competitor. Apple currently isn’t. What’s so hard to grok?

  • lwdesign1

    I think this is a great strategy for Yahoo! Google is a HUGE company and Yahoo!’s biggest competitor, so why should their company phone run an OS from Google? Apple is also a HUGE company and in competition with Google, so this is a great strategic partnership for Yahoo!. Standardizing on the iPhone makes rolling out upgrades and apps a breeze for IT. Other strategic alliances could be formed with Apple, including replacing the standard Google search in Safari with Yahoo! as the default.

    I’d love to see Yahoo! come back swinging to give Google and Bing a run for their money. They’ll have to really pull up their socks to make their search features really compelling, but I’d love to see Yahoo! take a bite out of some of Google’s business.

    Go for it Marissa! You really need to get as many high-powered allies as possible to stand up to the Google juggernaut.

  • Jack Gnasty

    Yes it matters. A business background might help decipher the not-so-difficult question here. Considering Yahoo has been through a handful of failed CEOs over the past couple years, some new cohesion needs to be developed. Each of the failed CEOs came in and tried to send the company in a new direction on top of being gutted to a skeleton crew. I can’t imagine how disjointed and unfocused the organization is right now.

    Time to bring the group back to square one. And iOS is a great platform to focus development resources and unify their products.

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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