It’s 2014, almost seven years since Apple launched the iPhone, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone efforts have only resulted in lost marketshare. Oh, the shame! Oh, the humanity! Oh, the lost profits! Where is Office for the iPad?
Twixt And Between
Microsoft’s fortunes now rest between a rock and a hard spot; twixt and between the dying Windows PC business in the post-PC era, and the rapidly growing mobile industry of which Microsoft is not a player.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the company was working on a version of Office for the iPad.
Better late than never, right? Office is the standard productivity app suite for Windows and Mac PCs. Of course Office needs to be on the iPad for the iPad to be a success, right?
Not so fast. Apple has already shipped a few hundred million iPads to eager buyers, and not one of them has Office, and, guess what? Nobody cares.
The reason iPad users really, truly, deeply need Office on their iPads is because beleaguered Microsoft really, truly, deeply, as well as profoundly, needs the money, and some kind of presence in the mobile industry mostly dominated by arch nemesis Apple.
Whoa! What a turnaround.
Be Like Apple
Here’s the problem Microsoft faces. Office on Windows PCs is a carrot to get customers to buy PCs in the first place.
However, in the past year, Microsoft has acknowledged Apple’s success in mobile, so the company has decided to be like Apple and design and build their own hardware, too, starting first with the failed Surface tablet, the failed Surface notebook, now followed up with whatever else might work.
Keeping Office for itself, not sharing Office with any of the hundreds of millions of iPhone and iPad users means Office becomes a key point of differentiation between Microsoft’s mobile devices and everyone else.
Hence, no Office for you, iPad and iPhone users. Office stays with Microsoft. Why? As it turns out, iPhone and iPad users don’t care about Office. Microsoft needs the money and the customers, sure, but selling Office for, say, $49 iPad and iPhone users seems like a tough sell since the capable and usable Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are free.
How about Office for Android? Hey, most Android users, whether smartphone or tablet, seldom use the apps they already have. Can anyone believe Android users would buy a $49 package of Office apps in large enough numbers to make Microsoft happy?
That’s why Microsoft is keeping Office for itself. It’s a key point of differentiation in an era where nobody but Microsoft really cares about Office anymore.