Sure, there’s the keyboard and mouse division, but that’s chump change vs. Windows and Office profits. There’s Xbox but that’s almost always been a money loser. You know, like Bing. Microsoft has been down and out for about a decade but the company seems to be going back to its roots.
Apps, Here, There, Everywhere
Over the course of the last year Microsoft has become one of the stellar app developers for iPhone and iPad. Microsoft’s mojo has always been software, and the company seems intent on getting it back.
Here’s what has happened in just the past year. Microsoft launched Office for iPhone and iPad and Android OS. That’s right Office.
Office means Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, but Microsoft has gone beyond the basics with OneDrive, Bing search, and other apps for Apple’s iOS devices.
Microsoft’s apps are free, but some come with an in-app purchase option for Office 365, the company’s online subscription service. So, Microsoft hopes to make money by giving away software to entire users to their monthly subscription option.
While Microsoft has been running as series of television commercials pitting the Surface Pro tablet notebook hybrid against Apple’s iPhone and iPad, the Windows maker also plans to launch a new version of Office for the Mac (supposedly bringing parity to the Windows version… again).
All this action means Microsoft is back in the software business big time with apps that span platforms beyond Windows. What is unknown is whether or not all those free apps can translate into enough Office 365 subscriptions for Microsoft’s new found mojo to make any money.
Windows-based smartphones have been running Cortana, the company’s personal digital assistant and nemesis to Apple’s Siri, for about a year. Word on the streets is that the highly touted Cortana might show up on Android and iOS devices later this year.
All of this software development means that Microsoft recognizes that Windows and Office have plateaued and future revenue growth and profits must come from mobile devices, where the company’s presence is mostly negligible– except for software, which, other than lying, cheating, stealing, and promoting illegal monopolistic practices, is the company’s claim to fame.
Microsoft may want its mojo back, but the game has changed. Windows and Office generated a couple of decades of riches, but the mobile industry is different. Google’s Android OS and free apps own the low end, while Apple’s iOS platform owns the premium end, yet both provide customers with many free applications that compete with Microsoft’s apps.
How will Microsoft make any money? We’re back to that Office 365 subscription model, and Microsoft won’t say how that’s working out so far. Is it simply too early to tell, or is it just difficult for the company to count the beans when they’ve been swept under the rug?