Posted by: Onuora Amobi
iPad, Microsoft, Microsoft Office
There continues to be talk about Microsoft releasing a version of Office specifically for Android and iOS devices. There are quite a few opinions about this move, though Microsoft itself has never actually confirmed that they are releasing Office outside of Windows.
In reality though, is this a wise move for Microsoft to tap into the iOS and Android market with Office? While Windows 8 and Windows RT devices aren’t runaway successes just yet, Office and easy integration with an existing Windows enterprise environment are two of the biggest things going for Microsoft. In short, releasing Office for iOS and Android would be like shooting yourself in the foot.
Microsoft’s best position for the Surface PRO and other Windows 8 (and even RT) devices is in the enterprise market, or even more specifically in the BYOD sector. For those that work at companies that have BYOD policies in place, there is a lot to like about Windows 8 tablets.
These Windows 8 tablets run Office, all your legacy apps, and also have a mobile side through the new Start UI and the Windows Store. There are even programs like BlueStacks that allow you to run select Android apps. Additionally Windows 8 tablets can not only work great as your primary work tablet and computer, they can also work wonderfully at home.
Taking Office out of the equation certainly changes things. If you can get an Android tablet or iPad and throw Office into the mix, why invest in a new OS with an unestablished ecosystem?
Alright, but Microsoft needs Office for iOS to tap into the HUGE iPad user base, right? Actually no.
Microsoft Office for iOS is Bad News All Around
While many business users are still faithful to Office, there is a growing number of students, light business users and home users that have learned to love Office alternatives on iOS, including Apple’s own iWorks apps.
Most of those that have already switched to iPad over the years have found an office solution that meets their needs. Releasing Office now isn’t likely to impress them or even get them to switch. They don’t care that Office is a superior solution, they just want something that “works” for their limited needs.
Meanwhile, there are still many PC users that haven’t jumped on the tablet bandwagon but are seriously considering it. These users come from a world where Microsoft Office is King. Knowing that Windows 8 is the only source for Office could persuade this group to stick with Microsoft and get a tablet running Windows 8.
But it works in the Mac world, right?
Microsoft Office for Mac has been around forever, but it hasn’t disrupted any real balance. Why should releasing it for iOS make any difference? Pretty simple, the Mac’s marketshare isn’t a concern for Microsoft.
Microsoft isn’t just starting to establish itself in the PC world, they were already the biggest player. If Apple was the PC market giant and Microsoft was the minor OS, believe me, things would probably be quite different. Additionally, Microsoft sees the writing on the wall. The PC market is the shrinking, mobile is the future. Losing a few users to a Mac computer isn’t a big deal. Losing all their potential Windows 8 tablet market to iPad and Android is.
Bottom-line, Microsoft releasing Office for cross-platform on mobile competitors is a move that has plenty of risk and only limited potential gains.