Apple Aims for 10% Growth in iPhone 16 Shipments in 2024

Microsoft Corp. has informed its employees in China that they will be required to use iPhones for work-related purposes starting in September.

This move effectively bans the use of Android-powered devices for accessing corporate resources.

According to an internal memo, the decision is part of a broader companywide initiative to enhance the security of Microsoft products and services against cyber threats.

The new policy will impact hundreds of employees across the Chinese mainland, ensuring they utilize Apple’s devices to verify their identities when logging in.

This requirement is tied to the mandatory use of the Microsoft Authenticator password manager and Identity Pass app, both of which are available only through Apple’s App Store in China.

The core reason behind the exclusion of Android devices is the absence of Google’s mobile services in China. Without access to Google Play, Chinese Android users are unable to download the essential security apps required by Microsoft.

Local smartphone manufacturers like Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. operate their own app platforms, which do not meet Microsoft’s security requirements.

As a result, Microsoft has decided to provide iPhone 15 models to employees currently using Android handsets, including those made by Huawei or Xiaomi.

These iPhones will be issued as a one-time purchase and can be collected at designated hubs across China, including in Hong Kong where Google’s services are accessible. Employees may continue to use Android phones for personal purposes.

“Due to the lack of availability of Google Mobile Services in this region, we look to offer employees a means of accessing these required apps, such as an iOS device,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

This policy change underscores the fragmented nature of Android app stores in China and highlights the growing divergence between Chinese and foreign mobile ecosystems.

The move comes as part of Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative (SFI), launched in November 2023, which represents the company’s most ambitious security overhaul in two decades.

This initiative includes leveraging artificial intelligence and other technologies to address cloud vulnerabilities more rapidly, enhance credential security, and enforce multifactor authentication automatically for employees.

The timing of Microsoft’s policy shift is particularly sensitive given the ongoing geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington. Since 2023, numerous Chinese government-backed firms and agencies have instructed staff to avoid bringing foreign devices to work, citing security concerns.

Also, in May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft had offered to relocate between 700 and 800 employees based in China working on artificial intelligence, a key strategic technology for both nations.

Despite the changes, Microsoft and Apple shares remained mostly unchanged in New York on Monday.

However, Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, saw a nearly 1% decline in its stock, while Xiaomi’s stock fell about 1% in Hong Kong.

Microsoft’s Secure Future Initiative aims to fortify the company against cybersecurity threats through various measures, including the new iPhone-only policy in China.

By mandating the use of iPhones, Microsoft hopes to create a more secure and cohesive digital environment for its employees in a region where cyber threats are a growing concern.


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