Office for iOS, Android on deck for 2014: Will the users wait?

Office for iOS, Android on deck for 2014: Will the users wait?

Summary: A leaked Microsoft roadmap shows Office for iOS and Android-based is on deck for mid-late 2014. But will the users wait that long?


Microsoft can hold off a year to release iOS and Android-based versions of its Office software, but can the users wait?

Microsoft Office may not arrive until mid-late 2014 (Credit: CNET TV)

On-the-go Office users may have to wait another year before they can get their hands on the latest iOS and Android-based versions of the popular productivity suite, according to ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley.

The roadmap published earlier today suggests that in spite of previous reports and hard-hitting claims that Office for iOS (and perhaps a version for Android) will arrive this year, Microsoft may be waiting another few quarters before rolling out its mobile editions.

As Foley points out, the third quarter of 2014 is when the Office team is looking to "support" both iOS and Android versions of the software.

What the roadmap doesn't explain is whether or not this is limited to the iPad, or will be open to iPhone and Android-based phone devices, given that it isn't listed as an iPad-specific release. 

Office for iOS and Android-based devices -- while they may seem  frivolous to some --  command a great deal of respect in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) market, as well as among ordinary desk-working enterprise folk.  

Can Microsoft wait?

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt said in February that Microsoft may be losing out on as much as $2.5 billion in revenue by failing to get an iPhone and iPad version of Office out the door.

While Microsoft's Office division still takes in around one-fifth of the company's quarterly revenue, Holt's numbers were a little rough around the edges and didn't account for the 30 percent fee that Microsoft would have to pay Apple for each application sale. That is, of course, if Microsoft doesn't take the HTML5 application option or develop a subscription-based service allowing it to avoid the royalty payment.

Windows remains on top in Microsoft's division rankings, according to its second-quarter earnings in January. But with an overall trend decline in PC sales, Windows will suffer in the long term. PCs run Windows, and Windows runs on PCs. The two have a symbiotic relationship and rely on each other to make money.

ZDNet's Ed Bott may have it in for Gartner's figures, but IDC's figures -- albeit published before Gartner's -- came to the same conclusion. The PC market is on the decline while mobile and tablet usage is on the rise.

Smartphones and tablets combined account for nearly six times the 2012 unit market share of desktop PCs, according to IDC. By 2014, Android will have more than 1 billion devices, and Apple's share -- iOS and OSX combined -- will come narrowly behind the number of Windows-based machines on the market.

Whichever figures you read, the overall consensus is that the number of PCs in the market is falling year-over-year. The Windows division will therefore lose money over time and the Office division will step up to the mark. A year-long delay in getting an expanded range of Office mobile applications out the door will impact the software giant's top line, but only if the users stick around long enough to reap the rewards from Microsoft's efforts.

The users can, but likely won't wait

The business and enterprise space has embraced mobile for some time, particularly since the rise of the tablets when the iPad carved out the market in 2010. Four years later, Microsoft will finally release a version of its Office software on the world's most popular tablet -- if the leaked roadmap remains on track. 

The majority of businesses still rely on Microsoft Office -- whatever that may look like, whether it's desktop software or a strong integration with Web-based Office 365.

But the primary concern for Microsoft will likely be, simply: Will business users just move on and start using alternatives, particularly if it's merely part of a wider service that offers enterprise collaboration, communications and storage. (Hint: Google). 

Office still remains the world's most popular, but Google -- Microsoft's main rival in the productivity space -- is catching up. Google Docs already has mobile working versions out the door, and the search-turned-everything-else giant is picking up the slack.

It doesn't matter that Google doesn't have writing, presentation or spreadsheet apps in the App Store; it has a Web-based service -- something Microsoft will likely try and replicate in order to avoid paying the 30 percent royalty fee to Apple. In doing so, it makes the software cross-compatible with Android while avoiding spending vast sums on developing its own version for the different platform.

But Microsoft's Office is not the be-all and end-all anymore. There are strong, viable alternatives, and the competitors have leapfrogged Microsoft in the mobile space and are only seconds behind on the racetrack.

Topics: Microsoft, Android, iOS, Smartphones, Tablets

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  • Will the users wait?


    Google brings Quickoffice to Android & the iPhone
    • Bahahaha - Google apps are a joke

      They are not good for any serious business.
      • YOU are a joke

        Not good for ANY serious comments.

        A brain washed puppet comes to mind.
      • Professional No!

        Still seeking attention I see.
        • I don't know any major business that uses Google apps

          Except some small shop blogging sites who want to use freebies.
          • Yes just some blogging sites

            I know you don't want to know who uses Google apps.

            City of (Los Angeles, CA),(Rochester Hills, MI),
            (Westerville, OH), (Pittsburgh, PA),(Orlando, FL),
            South Carolina DHEC, NOAA, GSA, Berkeley Lab, State of Wyoming, Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks, U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

            More at:
          • They don't have any competant business

          • Sad…. So sad

            They have competent business.

            “They don't have any competant business”

            Take a nap.
          • Ouch!

            “[PJ: Later, after Google wins this race, will Microsoft claim it's because it's a monopoly? Anyway, let the record show: Microsoft was too slow to offer a competitive product for iOS and Android.] -”

          • Ouch!

            just the fact that you referenced groklaw.

            that's like asking Steve Ballmer to write a review as to why people should use Android, or for Sergey Brin to comments on the benefits of choosing Windows over Chromebooks.

            Like I said, you referenced groklaw?

            William Farrel
          • So you don't have an actual argument?

            Nice ad hominem there, chief.
            Third of Five
          • Some where in what

            you wrote there must be a point.
          • More seriously:

            Do you have any actual arguments that would indicate that PJ is off base on this? It seems that she has earned her reputation as far as knowing what she's talking about; if you have fact-based objections, by all means make them known.

            As to your questions about Ballmer and Brin, I like to think I would read what they say with an open mind before I make judgment on their assertions.
            Third of Five
          • you mr ownlll1net don't have any competant opinions.

            But you are clearly awesome value for Microsoft. If they are paying you, they are getting a good return... if they are not paying you (directly or otherwise), they probably should be.
          • All govt agencies

            Not. surprising in these lean economic times. Try putting the same licensing fee that MS charges for Office and see which they choose on a level playing field!
            number cruncher
      • Yep, my son uses Google Docs because his school tells him he has to

        He hates it because the application loses track of there the cursor is supposed to be. He has to close the document and open it again to fixe the problem. It doesn't matter if he is using IE or Chrome, it's the same problem.
        M Wagner
  • the office apps on android are not bad

    but I still have yet to see one with the features I need- especially error bars. so damn simple! how can you not put in error bars??
  • They will move to Surface

    There is no reason now for Enterprise or SMB's to buy an iPad/Android tab because the much Superior and Capable Windows 8 tablet are already here.
    • I guess that is why ....

      the Surfaces are not selling well and the non-MS alternatives are dominating sales/usage.

      We can always count on an idiotic comment from Owlllllllllllll1net.
      • Who told you Win 8 tablets are not selling

        Enterprise are ordering Windows 8 tablets in big numbers, iPads are being phased out... Android tablet never made it to the enterprise.