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