Microsoft covers its mobile Office bases with Android, buys time

Microsoft covers its mobile Office bases with Android, buys time

Summary: In the end, Microsoft Office Mobile for Android and iPhone are nice hedges should Windows Phone and Windows 8 fail to garner significant mobile share.


Microsoft's launch of Office Mobile for Android just a few weeks after the iPhone version illustrate how the software giant is gradually coming around to the reality that it may not be the big dog on post-PC platforms.

In the end, Microsoft Office Mobile for Android and iPhone are nice hedges should Windows Phone and Windows 8 fail to garner significant mobile share. Mary Jo Foley noted that Microsoft has a roadmap for stronger core Office apps for Android, iPhone and iPad, but appears to be giving those products some time possibly for the Windows mobile ecosystem to develop further. 

The Android and iPhone versions of Office are tethered to an Office 365 account and optimized for Word, Excel and PowerPoint editing. Selling Office outright on those platforms would be a better move.

But here's the catch. Microsoft wants the best Office experience on its mobile platforms, but needs more share. If Microsoft's mobile efforts on smartphones and tablets fail to develop garnering Office 365 subscriptions isn't a bad consolation prize.

What will be interesting to watch is the adoption of Office Mobile for Android and iPhone. Will Microsoft garner new cloud Office subscriptions or largely cater to existing customers?

Bottom line: Microsoft is a software vendor and can still make gobs of money with Office on any platform. The best bet for Microsoft is to spread its bets around.

Topics: Collaboration, Android, Microsoft, Mobility

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  • The dike is leaking...

    So soon they will do a general Linux version of Office maybe?
    • While I would love that

      the fact remains that iOS and Android have a very significant market share on their respective platforms, while Linux on the desktop does not.
      Michael Kelly
      • For That Matter

        OS X isn't, comparatively, that large a share of pcs world-wide, yet the MBU sticks around because it makes money.

        I haven't decided if I think the Microsoft re-org will work or not. It hinges on internal politics and what people who perceived a loss of power or bonuses or a shot at being Ballmer's successor think and do.

        But I will say this, Microsoft at some level thinks that it missed some large opportunities and has to pay to catch up because Windows and/or Office power centers killed good ideas that threatened their power base, the revenues and profits from Windows and/or Office.

        I have suggested Office for Linux before, mainly because a serious port would make the Windows version better. There's a pragmatic point as well. While Office with every release improves, other products, with quicker update cycles, also improve. There will be a point when the competitors are clearly good enough and new customers (small businesses, college kids) will not get on board the Office train, based on cost at a time in their story when all costs are super-critical. If you go back and think about what Gates was saying in the 90s, he got that. Technology and customers change and the king of the software hill finds the hill moved elsewhere.

        (Who moved my hill? There's a business book title with but one flaw, too close to cheese.)

        Now this is not a "doom" prediction. Just saying there's money to be made over there as well, so why not, especially as compared with the money needed to get XBox profitable, or the money spent on the ad business, or the money spent on the Zune player, or the money written down because they overestimated RT appeal, how could porting to Linux be as costly an effort for minimal results? (With XBox, the money spent worked out for them. With XBox the Windows/Office powers didn't sense a threat so it was allowed. Compare that with the Danger acquisition.)

        Besides, show of hands, who really thinks it's Office that keeps people using Windows?

        I'm not seeing any hands, am I? Okay, I'm seeing two, but they're not raised.
        • Compared to Windows

          OS X isn't that big. Compared to Linux, it's pretty big. I don't have numbers in front of me, but I would dare to say OS X would be in the 10% ballpark, with Linux being in the 1% ballpark.
          Michael Kelly
          • Suspect difference in consumer behavior as well

            apple consumers are used to paying for software.

            Linux users are not used to paying for software.

            I say that not to imply that this is a good thing or a bad thing, it is simply a difference in culture. It is also a generalization, of course but generalizations count in statistics. If apple consumers spend 10 times more on software than Linux consumers and there are 10 times more apple consumers, then the revenue that can be made selling to apple consumers is 100 times more than can be made selling to Linux users.

            I think there is also the hatred aspect. A vocal minority of apple consumers hate Microsoft (given the fact that ~90% of ios users are Windows itunes users). A vocal majority of Linux users HATE Microsoft. So as disinterested as Linux users are in paying for software to begin with, they ESPECIALLY don't want to pay Microsoft for software. Add it all together and it wouldn't surprise me if the revenue potential for Office on Linux is about 1/1000ths of that for osx.
          • In other terms

            Linux users use open source software and Apple users usually don't.
          • open source

            Interesting point. I use quite a bit of paid software on my Mac and a lot of open source. In fact if you read the licences you'd realise OS X would be very different workout open source or other similar licences.
          • agree, but only in the case of private consumers

            Todd - agree with your argument in regrds to private consumers. But a lot of companies use Red Hat for various server duties (web servers especially,) and Windows for all the client-side stuff. If Microsoft were to release a version of Office for Linux desktop, then I think there would be a sizable number of corporate buyers that would suddenly become interested in Linux on the desktop.

            MS would loose money from lost Windows licenses, and gain from more Office licenses. The exact number of each, I don't know. I suspect they would gain more than they'd loose.
        • Count me in.

          "Besides, show of hands, who really thinks it's Office that keeps people using Windows? "

          I do, actually.
          Shameer Mulji
      • But as desktop sales plummet...

        So does the desktop sales of Office...

        And that is one of MS two cash cows.
    • The answer would be the web

      That would be Microsoft's response to that question, I think. Of course, it's not as powerful as the Windows or Mac versions, but then, as Michael Kelly points out, it doesn't have the market share either.
    • Perhaps, but

      I would never buy it. Microsoft deserves all of the losses they can. I can't wait until these bums are relegated to the dustbin of history.
  • Microsoft covers its mobile Office bases with Android, buys time

    Larry already has Microsoft Windows Phone as being a dead OS when its done nothing but gained share. This is a strategic move to get people on other platforms to migrate over to Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Windows Phone 8. It makes plenty of sense because these users can use Microsoft Office on android or iphone until they get migrated to Microsoft Windows Phone 8.
    • Office

      It's a strategic move to ensure their Office revenue stream.
      • And there's nothing wrong with that

        Customers will buy a good product at a good price, and Microsoft is in business to make money.
        Michael Kelly
        • Agreed

          I never said there was anything wrong w/ that. I was just refuting LD's absurd migration comment.
    • Hilarious!

      .... users can use Microsoft Office on android or iphone until they get migrated to Microsoft Windows Phone 8.

      I haven't laughed this hard in weeks. Microsoft is too late to the mobile game. Windows Phone 8 is the mobile OS equivalent of the Linux desktop - A few dedicated users, but little market share.
      • Migration

        If you knew LD, you'd know his head would explode if he every admitted MS wasn't the best of the best and everyone wants to be w/ MS.
    • Miss The BIG Point

      It isn't the general use on what OS platform, it is the business model MS and Adobe are trying to garner share on: ie. subscription services.

      Migrate to Win Phone?
      Chuckle. Not bloody likely.
  • This is not a hedge

    What this is. is simply a carrot to increase Office 365 subscriptions over time. There are a grundle of people that may have a tablet (IOS / Android) that still own a PC. Makes sense to offer them away to use Office on their tablets if the purchase a subscription.

    I am afraid Larry at this point you missed the overall strategy of Microsoft to keep adding revenue through subscriptions rather than hedge against a perceived failure.