Microsoft is continuing to deliver various apps for competing platforms -- a move which some of its loyal users (and some employees) aren't sure is the right one.
The latest decision: Microsoft made available on December 7 a free Xbox Live app that works on Apple's iOS-based iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad products.
The new iOS app allows users to track and compare achievements, send/receive messages with other Xbox Live friends, change their 3D avatars, edit Xbox Live profiles, access Xbox Spotlight feeds, and get game tips and tricks, according to the description on the iTunes store, from which the Version 1.2 app is downloadable.
The Xbox Companion app for Windows Phone -- which also went live today, December 7 -- allows users to search via Bing for movies, TV shows, music, games and apps on their Xboxes, as well as obtain additional information on that content, as well as friends' activities; play, pause and rewind content on the Xbox and navigate the console. (The Companion app was supposed to roll out December 6, but it was delayed slightly, as was the latest Xbox 360 dashboard update, which was subject to undisclosed "deployment issues.")
Microsoft's top brass needs to weigh carefully and regularly whether/when to make available Microsoft apps on non-Microsoft platforms.
As put so well by Charles Songhurst, Microsoft General Manager, Corporate Strategy, during a December 6 appearance at the NASDAQ OMX Investor Program event in London: "You've always got to be very strategic about decisions you make about whether you don't put your core applications on your platform or on other platforms. We'll continue to think strategically about that going forward."
Microsoft execs have had to make this evaluation with Office, for example. There are rumors that Microsoft is close to delivering Office for Apple's iPad and may do so in 2012. No doubt, that decision (if it has happened) was a difficult one, given Office is one of Microsoft's crown jewels. By keeping Office off the iPad, Microsoft could/may have given its own Windows-based tablet offering a leg up, so the reasoning goes.