Big winner with Office for iPad and Android delay: Google

Summary:Microsoft is reportedly delaying a launch of Office for the iPad and Android to late next year. That may be too late with Google poised to take Office customers.

Microsoft Office has long been expected on the iPad and Android tablets, even though the company in Redmond, Washington, has never confirmed that it's coming. But those two mobile markets are too large to ignore, and analysts have predicted that Microsoft is losing billions of dollars each year without a version of Office for them. Now comes word that this new version of Office is coming, but won't appear for over a year. That very well may be too late for the bunch in Redmond.

Quickoffice spreadsheet
Quickoffice Image: Google

My colleague Zack Whittaker believes Google Docs will take some of these customers away, but that's not the biggest threat to Microsoft. The longer Microsoft neglects to release the iOS and Android versions of Office, a greater number of customers owning iPads and other tablets will discover competing Office-compatible apps for those platforms. Having used many of these suites for years, it is clear they are robust enough to fill the need for Office for many owners.

It hasn't been stated but don't be surprised when Google releases the latest version of Quickoffice for the iPad, Android tablets, and all chromebooks to compete directly with Microsoft Office.

There is an even bigger threat to Microsoft in the mobile Office market that is already sneaking in to steal customers lacking real Office. That threat is Google, and not with Google Docs, as Whittaker believes. No, the real threat that Google will throw at Microsoft is Quickoffice.

Quickoffice has been a top Office-compatible suite on both Android and iOS for years, a viable alternative to Office. It is so good that Google bought the company (and thus the product) last year.

Google hasn't been sitting on Quickoffice, either. It has already produced new versions of the office suite for the iPad and Android that are free for paid Google Apps customers. Google has stated that it will integrate Quickoffice into the premium Chromebook Pixel laptop. In other words, the company is positioning Quickoffice as a full-featured business alternative for Microsoft Office on three different platforms.

The free version of Quickoffice released by Google is not the only one. Quickoffice Pro, the latest paid version, is available for both iOS and Android for $19.99 each.

It hasn't been stated, but don't be surprised when Google releases a new version of Quickoffice for the iPad, Android tablets, and all chromebooks. This version may not be free, but it's almost a given that it will be cheaper than Microsoft will price Office to remain profitable. This will put a quality office suite that competes with (and is compatible with files produced by) Microsoft Office on the huge iPad and Android markets. It won't be as complete an office suite as that from Microsoft, but it will be good enough for a large portion of that market.

This delay of getting Office to competing mobile platforms will end up biting Microsoft where it hurts. The pit bull (Google) doing the biting has executed a master plan with Quickoffice, and it will be significant. It will change the street definition of Scroogled when Google hits Microsoft's profitable Office business.

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Topics: Mobility, Google, iPad, Microsoft


James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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