Nearly every desktop PC or notebook, including many Macs, is adorned with Microsoft Office. Two weeks into the lifespan of Office for iPad, how is Microsoft’s free-but-not-really suite of apps doing on iPad and iPhone?
Numbers Don’t Lie
Let me begin by tossing out a few hard numbers. Microsoft announced that Office for iPad was downloaded about 12-million times in the first 10 days.
That’s a huge number. But all those downloads were free. Office for iPad, for it to actually work and do something besides read a Word document or a PowerPoint show or an Excel spreadsheet, needs help.
Help? Yes, Office for iPad only works with a Microsoft Office 365 account and that costs real money, up to $99 a year.
So, how many of those 12-million Office for iPad downloads will end up with an Office 365 account, and therefore translate into revenue, only Microsoft knows, but if only 20-percent of the downloads translate to annual revenue, Office for iPad could be a huge hit.
God isn’t the only one who knows that Microsoft could use a big hit right now.
Just For Grins
For the sake of the math, let’s assume Office for iPad gets downloaded onto 20-million iPads by the end of 2014, but only one of five actually gets hooked up to an Office 365 account at $99 a year.
That means Office for iPad could end up with a revenue run rate approaching half a billion dollars by the end of the year.
Can you name another iPhone or iPad app that brings in that kind of dough?
What’s The Usage Trend?
That brings me to another few questions that need to be asked and answered. Is Office for iPad too little too late? Is Office for iPad bucking the general trend where customers move away from Windows and Office to Google’s apps or Apple’s free iWork apps?
If anything, and if my own non-scientific research in our company’s midtown Manhattan’s building occupants is indicative, Office may slow the tide moving out to sea and away from Microsoft’s once dominant enterprise hegemony.
Already dozens of my co-workers have Office installed on their iPads (with the company footing the bill, of course). Generally speaking, they like it. I’ve tasted Office for iPad, and, to be fair and honest, it’s very good; an “iOS app that can do real work,” according to my boss.
One problem I see is one that I experience myself. Many of my co-workers are going iPad only, and dropping the traditional Windows notebook PC entirely. That means a shift in revenue for Microsoft, rather than a gain. PCs with Office out. iPads with Office in.
Regardless of how the venture into iOS apps turns out for Microsoft, Apple’s iPhone and iPad have seriously disrupted the traditional PC business, which means disruption for Windows and Office. Along the way, both Google and Apple have created platforms which can perform many of the same tasks once dominated by desktop PCs and notebooks.
My personal view is that Microsoft completely missed the mobile device revolution brought about by Apple. Office for iPad may slow down the death spiral, but Microsoft needs another hit or two before it crashes into the ground; a footnote in mobile device history.