Office for iOS/Android rumor gets teeth: Subscription model hinted

Office for iOS/Android rumor gets teeth: Subscription model hinted

Summary: According to new information Microsoft is readying Office for the iOS and Android platforms. The report hints at a subscription model for the software that may not fly with iOS and Android device owners.

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Rumors about Office on iOS and Android have been flying around for quite some time, and a new report by The Verge (with screenshots) lends teeth to the possibility. As Mary Jo Foley points out the information that Microsoft will use a subscription model for Office on these platforms fits in with the company's move to the "pay as you go" model of Office 365. What's not clear is how owners of iOS and Android devices will embrace mobile software with a monthly bill attached.

The report by The Verge uncovered that Office for iOS and Android will be primarily for viewing of Office documents on the go, with limited editing capability. This would likely be aimed at the mobile professional who uses complex Office documents, as apps from third parties already do a decent job handling very basic Office documents.

The inclusion of Office on the Surface RT recently launched by Microsoft is quoted by some buyers as the reason for the purchase. This demonstrates a clear need for some to have real Office and not a third-party knockoff as is currently available for mobile usage.

If Microsoft uses a subscription model for the iOS/Android versions of Office, it may not sit well with owners of those devices. Owners of iPads and Android tablets, the supposed target market for these new Office apps, are used to paying up front for apps and that's it. 

Apps are usually cheap, with many less than $10. If the Office 365 model is carried over to these new mobile platforms, buyers may think long and hard at incurring an $8+ monthly fee to use the Office apps. It might fly with businesses, but most iPad and Android tablet owners are individuals who may not be willing to keep paying for the privilege to use real Office. It also will depend on how limited those editing capabilities turn out to be if the rumors hold true.

Topics: Mobility, Android, iOS, Microsoft

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27 comments
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  • It will be bought by business users largely

    Who will pay.
    bradavon
  • I'd drop $30.00

    I'd drop $30.00 on a reasonably full featured Office for Android (one that can display Office docs and includes basic editing and formatting capabilities). But I'm not goig to subscribe to an Office as a service model, when there are $15.00 Android Office suites that do a pretty decent job of as it is, and see frequent feature expanding updates.
    dsf3g
    • I would pay a bit more, provided "reasonably full featured"

      I have Documents to Go, paid version, and OfficeSuite, paid version. They both handle MS office files reasonably well and did not cost much. Microsoft has to give me a very superior product to justify the cost.

      No way will I pay a monthly bill for Office. Microsoft is screwing up with this one. If they don't get greedy with pricing, I will purchase Office for the Surface Pro I probably will buy. The same goes with Office for my tablets. They have to decide between high margins per unit sales and market penetration.
      rp518
  • Office for iOS/Android rumor gets teeth: Subscription model hinted

    iOS and android users have been screaming for this so it will go over pretty well. The nice part is that Microsoft will be getting revenue from users of non-Windows devices.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Enterprise users - yes, consumers - not so much

      Who needs the full functionality of excel at home? Who uses more than 50% of the features of word for home use? Enterprise may welcome it but consumers will find cheaper alternatives limited to the basic functions needed at home.
      Little Old Man
      • Not Seeing It

        Business users? Maybe a small subset.
        I could see this as part of an enterprise license model.
        Surface Pro - yes
        Surface RT - maybe
        Android - maybe
        iOS - nope
        rhonin
        • If this is for Enterprise use, iOS tablets command the market share

          This Office business model would work for and be appreciated by iOS users if the price is right. (Enterprise users who would need this feature will NOT be worried about price. That's just the way it is for enterprise based business uses.)

          However, as James points out, if the price is NOT right (and I have read rumors that this product might require a 9 dollar per month fee for cloud based support) than your hypothesis might correct, rhonin.

          Furthermore, since Android users pay far less for apps or in app purchases relative to iOS users, I would suggest Android users would pass on this product as well.
          kenosha77a
          • OMG, I actually agree with rhonin for once

            Of course he isn't spreading anti Apple FUD so that helps ;-)

            Those buying the Surface PRO are more than likely going to want/need full blown Office which I would assume will be a more capable package than available for the RT or most likely any of the other OSes. I have not tried the alternatives for Android but heard good things about some of them and having used Pages/Numbers on iOS for a while now it's a cheaper (than Office) but fully capable alternative which allows you to import/export Office documents. There will be some that just feel they have to have Office because they don't know what alternatives are out there. I do not agree though that Android users will pass because they pay far less for apps. While the overall market spends less on Android and the average user on iOS spends a fair amount more I have seen studies that those on Android that do spend money on apps tend to spend more. There are just fewer of them in comparison to iOS.
            non-biased
      • Well hate to burst your bubble...

        but our HS soccer team and our select club soccer team both team managers send out Excel and Word files to the users and both my daughers public HS and my son's private HS sendt out - Form their home machines.... and not one person (all income levels). Google Docs was attempted - but failed.
        ScanBack
        • I have yet to receive an email with Office doc attachments that I could not

          view those docs on my iPad. That covers three years of use. Then again, I've never used Google Docs to view those files on my iPad.

          I only point that out because Google Docs are not the only software app around that can view or edit Office created documents.
          kenosha77a
    • Or we could look at it this way

      MS knew they couldn't compete with the Surface RT so they held out with Office until months after the Surface RT was released with the limited use version then they will release a watered down subscription based version to iOS and Android so they can continue to try to use Office on RT to gain a few percentage points of market share. I think my version is closer to the truth that yours.
      non-biased
  • The value of your shares could tank if Microsoft gets too greedy.

    There are options for basic office functions on Android and iOS already. Microsoft has to compete with them. Price may not matter to people spending OPM, but it does to a lot of the rest of us. Microsoft may be able to pull off a monthly service fee, but it will have to be a cloud based service that delivers a whole lot more than basic office software and it will have to be platform independent.
    rp518
  • More then one device

    The subscription model is for up to 5 devices at one time.
    So if you have an iPad, a Android tablet, Windows 8 pro tablet, and say two worstation you can have Office 2013 installed on all 5 devices at one time, want to chang to a different device, go on line and remove the one you no longer need and add the new device.
    I am currently using the beta version on my Windows 8 and Windows 7 for home use and look to pay for the service when it becomes avaialble.
    With two kids going into HS and there need for doing work in office, this will be much cheaper them buing two copies of the Student version, Plus you will get the entire Office Professional package.
    True you do not own it, and the features for iOS and Android are yet to be released, if it does arive for these platforms.
    But over all this is not a bad deal if you have the need to have office on up to 5 computers.
    pfdsotm
    • pfdsotm, that might not be a bad deal for me.

      I like how B&N and Amazon sync pages across platforms on my books and could see Microsoft doing that sort of thing with Office. I'm glad it's working for you and hope that it will be even better with the new versions out there. It's going to be interesting.
      rp518
      • I think cross platform syncing would be key

        Without that feature it would be somewhat limiting compare to the competition. Of course you could always use Dropbox or equivalent to do this but they should be able to provide it within the subscription.
        non-biased
    • Wish I could edit posts.... Ed Bott reviewed 365 not too long ago

      I went to Microsoft directly

      http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en/whats-new

      Ed made a decent case for me to go this route. The fact is that I'd gladly buy two copies of Office that came with cloud features and some free Skype for $80 a pop. That's rougly $5 a month over a three year period. Huh. I'd get five and my use is almost precisely as your example.
      rp518
    • Not a bad deal???

      You are looking only a the short run. You'll be paying that monthly fee forever...

      As has been often stated, this is MS way of foisting SaaS upon the computer useruing public -- and greatly increasing their revenue. And who pays?? You and me. Well, not me, since I would never pay a subscription for software that I used to be able to purchase in a box.

      Have a nice day,

      Doc
      Doc.Savage
      • I pay $210 a month for cable and $170 for cellphones

        If I value Office for two family members on five devices at another $8, what's the big deal to me? I forgot about Bott's article which breaks down the math. At $5, it's just a given that I'll do it to cover 5 devices. $8 comes to a tax-deductable $288 over three years and that's a price that I hesitate at, but not much. As it gets higher my likelyhood of going that route goes down. I use three years, because that's about the life of a software package for us.

        Microsoft has to price this right or they will regret it. Also, they have to sell the additional features of a cloud based package that does way more than anything you can find on Play Store. They have it in them to screw this up and tank the shares of the pumpers: that's their problem. Mine is doing things I want to do more easily and without breaking the bank.


        You used to get free TV too.
        rp518
        • Reverse those two and you have my cable/cell bills but

          that doesn't mean I'm willing to pay a small $5-$8 ongoing subscription for something I can get for less than the cost of 8-12 months of that subscription and own it.
          non-biased
      • I pay $210 a month for cable and $170 for cellphones

        If I value Office for two family members on five devices at another $8, what's the big deal to me? I forgot about Bott's article which breaks down the math. At $5, it's just a given that I'll do it to cover 5 devices. $8 comes to a tax-deductable $288 over three years and that's a price that I hesitate at, but not much. As it gets higher my likelyhood of going that route goes down. I use three years, because that's about the life of a software package for us.

        Microsoft has to price this right or they will regret it. Also, they have to sell the additional features of a cloud based package that does way more than anything you can find on Play Store. They have it in them to screw this up and tank the shares of the pumpers: that's their problem. Mine is doing things I want to do more easily and without breaking the bank.


        You used to get free TV too.
        rp518