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Too many Facebook staffers prefer iPhones, company says, forcing many to switch to Android


Facebook’s chief product officer Chris Cox is insisting that an unspecified but substantial number of staff switch from iPhone to Android, in order to have an experience of the service more typical of that in emerging markets, reports Wired.

“I am mandating a switch of a whole bunch of my team over to Android, just because people, when left up to their own devices, will often prefer an iPhone,” said Chris Cox, who said the move is “so that they can be reporting bugs and living in the same experience that most Facebook users experience today” … 

The initiative follows on from ‘2G Tuesdays,’ where each Tuesday employees are asked to allow their Facebook app to behave as if it were on a slow 2G network for one hour, giving them an appreciation for what the service is like to use in many developing countries.

Both moves reflect the fact that with 1.5 billion users to date, and near saturation point in most markets, Facebook’s future growth depends on countries where technological development is at a much earlier stage.

Unlike 2G Tuesdays, which are voluntary, the wording of Cox’s announcement on Android suggests that the move from iPhone to Android is not. Among the things staff will miss out on when they give up their iPhones are the Notifications the company recently introduced to the iOS app.

Via TNW, photo Digiday

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  1. tralalalalalala50 - 7 years ago

    Android is fundamentally broken. Hopefully as low cost high value high speed older generation iPhones get distributed, the poor can experience a real mobile OS.

  2. Richard Flapper - 7 years ago

    That would for me most certainly be a reason to start looking for other employment.

    • shareef777 - 7 years ago

      This is for company provided devices. You’d always be free to get your own personal service/device.

      • r00fus1 - 7 years ago

        For such a personal device as a smartphone, the term “company provided” seems pretty invasive. Of course, they do work for Facebook, and Zuck’s old comments about how stupid his customers were is… telling

      • Jassi Sikand - 7 years ago

        Yes, but the days of having a ‘work-only’ device have long passed. Now it’s primarily BYOD

    • Steve32 - 7 years ago

      well that’s pretty extreme: changing the direction of your life because you have to use the phone you don’t like for work only.

  3. Tony Oshlick - 7 years ago

    So what I’m hearing is Android is the third world of phone OS’s…. sounds about right

    • iali87 - 7 years ago

      Nope. It says that Android is not preferable among developers.

  4. This isn’t going to work because it’s obvious from the design of the iOS app and the Facebook desktop site that no one at the company uses their platform anyway.

  5. darevsek - 7 years ago

    If the company was paying for the phone, then I would say, not an issue. But if the employee is the one buying the phone, and service and such. Then I would be one to tell them, thanks for the suggestion, and if you want me to use an android phone, then pay for one for me. Then I would be happy to use it for testing. Until then, I will not pay any fee’s, or funds out of my own pocket for your “mandate”. Like telling someone they have to buy and drive a scooter to work because you “mandate” it. I be the first to have them fire me for not doing their “mandate”, and sue them on First Amendment rights.

    • shareef777 - 7 years ago

      It’s for company provided devices, so no conflict here. And from a company perspective this is a good move. A substantial portion of their customers use Android so some employees that are supporting the product should be using the same platform to ensure the product is up to par on said platforms. We had a similar mandate at my job. The predominantly deployed laptop was a Lenovo (T series). Some users requested and received Macs and more and more people are requesting and getting Macs (50/50 split so far). But the support staff were all still using the Lenovos so they couldn’t help troubleshoot basic issues. It only makes business sense to mandate staff using devices that the customers use and that you build your platform upon.

      • rogifan - 7 years ago

        So previously the company gave you a choice of what phone you wanted and now they’re forcing you to use something you might not want? I’d say thanks but no thanks I’ll buy my own device.

    • quiviran - 7 years ago

      Sorry. The First Amendment is to control Government actions, not private companies. The Government cannot control a citizens speech a company can, as with NDAs. If you don’t like the NDA, don’t sign it, but the government won’t force the company to employ you if you don’t agree with the terms of employment.

      But I agree with your basic premise that the company can issue any phone they choose, but not force the employee to pay for it. And I’d go further, the company can’t expect you to use the company provided device during time when you aren’t being paid. Time and a half for using an Android at home, double time on Sundays or lock it in your desk drawer when you aren’t at work.

      • shareef777 - 7 years ago

        Unfortunately, that doesn’t work either. If you have an on-call based position you’re expected to carry the device on you 24/7. Though that’s not the same as forcing you to use it, they can definitely mandate that it’s by your side at all times (especially if you’re salaried).

      • quiviran - 7 years ago

        All the more reason to organize now. The main purpose of collective bargaining is to curb management overreach.

    • Facebook pays for errrrrything. I assure you, cost will NOT be an issue. Have you ever been to their campus? I would LIVE there if I could. The BEST restaurants (mixed grille, candy store, mexican restaurant… the BEST sushi restaurant), BEST gyms, healthcare facility, sleeping quarters…. all for FREE. Trust me, a small purchase like an extra cheapo Android phone will NOT be the issue stopping people from switching over.

    • freediverx - 7 years ago

      At a time when a BYOD policy is a factor in attracting and retaining talent, Facebook is putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage for staffing. That, in addition to the question of why (other than salary) someone at the top of their field would want to work for a sleazy company that isn’t doing anything to change the world for the better.

      • Jassi Sikand - 7 years ago

        Eh, I disagree with your last sentence completely but the first sentence is accurate.

  6. dcperin - 7 years ago

    Those poor poor souls!!!!! 😢 They better be proving the phone then, and I’d just sneak my iPhone out while no one was looking… 😜

  7. Jason Kichline - 7 years ago

    I think if I somehow found myself working for that company, I would quit… and go work at Apple. Just what I want, to work with crappy, buggy, insecure and sluggish devices all day.

  8. Tim Bryant - 7 years ago

    I would quit for sure.

  9. Gregory Wright - 7 years ago

    I don’t see a problem here. Essentially, the company wants many of its employees serving as beta users to detect problems on Android. Why do you people have to be such lapdogs.

  10. incredibilistic - 7 years ago

    That sucks. They’ll not just be missing Notifications but also quick actions via 3D Touch and Live Photos that Facebook has said they’re working on.

    I’m sure Apple’s grinning Grinch-style about this news!

  11. PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

    I would move to a different employer, but that’s just me.

  12. Bill Dixon - 7 years ago

    Mr cox , if the reports are true and Apple is out selling Samsung in S Korea and china It would appear You are out of touch and need a new job

  13. macnificentseven48 - 7 years ago

    As long as the company is paying for the Android smartphone, that seems OK. You can simply carry both smartphones. Poor people need to be supported with their Android smartphones in poverty-class third-world nations. Wall Street always says those are the people that matter because that’s where smartphone future growth is coming from. Apple’s iPhone will never be able to reach those masses and Android will forever remain the largest smartphone platform by far.

  14. Td mac (@tdsmac) - 7 years ago

    Lets look at this and assess some things.

    Their statement about pulling the devices due to customer confusion is BS. They easily could have mandated an icon or disclaimer that must be shown for any device that does not support Amazon Prime. To drive that message.
    For one, the initial threat gave Amazon some headlines and help drive awareness in regard to Prime. This also occurred like a week after Amazon ran the Prime promo using the Emmy win to drum up subscribers. So it kept their name in the news cycle for a few weeks.
    They set the devices being pulled to occur after the release of the new ATV. ATV gets released and that gets the headlines. Then pull the devices and get the headlines for yourself. I see a few things at play here. For one, it could be possible that Amazon has a large inventory of Fire devices and is looking to push those for the holiday season. Also, while the universal search feature of Siri WILL be opened up to third party apps its not their yet. Thus, when you search, Amazon content will not appear in the list. So, I can see that while they can do an App now, it almost makes no sense and can make a statement at the same time. They want to be on par with others. My guess is that these updates will happen next month or after the holiday season. This also makes sense for an update time frame from Apple cause it would coincide with devices people have received as gifts over the holiday season. I’m sure they are also looking to see customer feedback and uptake of the new Apple TV.

    Unless of course Amazon is hoping to do a power play and just withholding their content and trying to join forces with Spotify to raise the issue about the unfairness of having to pay the 30% fee on purchases through the app. However, I believe Apple is looking into making changes, especially on subscription service fee’s. Wouldn’t be surprised if this occurs at the same time as the universal search functionality. I’m going to say that Amazon will have an app and it will occur after the new year. Maybe it will occur with the announcement of Season 2 of transparent or some other new Prime show to drum up publicity.

  15. I’d consider having an android phone next to my iPhone just to keep my iPhone free of the terrible facebook app. But for that to make sense, i’d have to use the facebook app extensively, which I’m not. That’d probably be the case for many facebook employees, too, given how bad their app is, performance and UX wise.

  16. b9bot - 7 years ago

    And they will use there own iPhones instead anyways. That is a typical Microsoft idiotic move that will not solve anything. Apparently your own workers know what phone is the best and it is not Android.

  17. 1nf3cted - 7 years ago

    “…so that they can be reporting bugs and living in the same experience that most Facebook users experience today.”

    So… What he’s saying is he wants his team to use Android devices so that they can see first hand just how poorly Facebook for Android performs, because Android is the largest mobile platform, with the largest outreach? And this is supposed to help with quality control?

    It’s just gonna shrink their staff. They want to keep their iPhones for a reason.

  18. Hum… Sounds like FB doesn’t have their you know what together as far as development and QA/QE goes. We support both iOS and Android here but don’t have to resort to forcing people to switch from their preferred devices. It’s called having plenty of test devices on hand and asking your devs and QA to use them for their development and letting them feel like they own the application(s)… I find when you let developers feel like they own a product they tend to go the extra mile to make sure it works well.

  19. daniel13336 - 7 years ago

    I would like to know if he himself will switch too.

  20. Lee Junn - 7 years ago

    It’s a bit confusing. The company says that, “…because people, when left up to their own devices, will often prefer an iPhone” then you get, ” living in the same experience that most Facebook users experience today.” So, the boss admits people will use an iPhone because they want to, but that the majority of people are experiencing FB through an android based phone. Hmm…that’s a bit of a contradiction.

  21. Eurofag (@Eurofag) - 7 years ago

    Really now. They’ll just stop surfing facebook on the company issued phones. I also have a CI android phone, I only use it for calls and Good for enterprise. Every other case, straight to my iPhone.

  22. Will Van Gelderen - 7 years ago

    One would think that the team involved in the iOS portion of facebook would be using an iPhone, the Android team would be using Android and such. I could be mistaken though, maybe the teams are too small

  23. Jay Viper (@mrjayviper) - 7 years ago

    if it’s a PERSONAL phone, can he force his employees to change? shouldn’t they be providing the phones themselves since it’s a work phone?

  24. Jamie Aquila - 7 years ago

    You mean to tell me a company like theirs doesn’t have a quality assurance team able enough to test Android on it’s own? Seems like a PR stunt to me…


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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