The rumor mills have been churning ever since The Daily reported that Microsoft plans to bring its Office suite to Apple’s iPad. This move would bring together the world’s most popular business software with the most successful tablet on the market.
With no other tablet, save Windows devices, currently running MS Office, the new Excel, Word and PowerPoint apps will give the iPad yet another serious advantage in a field it already dominates. And tapping into the iPad’s overwhelming popularity can only help Microsoft gain favor among Apple’s zealous fan base.
And of course Office users and iPad fanatics alike can rejoice in this union – particularly at the low cost of $10 per app, which is what The Daily is suggesting Microsoft will charge. So where is the downside?
Well, the low price, aimed to compete with Apple’s current version of a business suite, iWorks, offers up a challenge to both Apple and Microsoft products.
The iWorks bundle, which consists of Pages, Numbers and Keynote (i-answers to Word, Excel and PowerPoint), is a far-less popular and functional business application. With the Microsoft version now coming to the iPad at the same price, it could spell death for iWorks.
Another possible casualty in this merger could be Microsoft’s bread and butter – the Windows and OS X versions of MS Office, which according to The Daily, are the company’s second highest generator of revenue behind only Windows. The high price of the suite, which can run several hundred dollars without an education discount, is a common complaint among users. Excel, Word and PowerPoint priced at $10 a piece offers a significant appeal to these customers.
Mary Jo Foley of the All About Microsoft blog from ZDNet offers this possible strategy for Microsoft to break into the iPad market without wiping out sales of its desktop products:
“There is another way Microsoft could deliver Office on the iPad with less risk of cannibalizing sales of full-fledged/full-priced versions. The Starter version of Office 2010 is available only when preinstalled by Windows PC makers. It is basically reduced-functionality, ad-supported, free versions of Word and Excel meant to hook users in and convince them to upgrade to a full-fledged version of the product by buying an activation code. Could Microsoft use a similar strategy on iPads without requiring Apple to preload the SKU — and instead allowing users to grab a stripped-down Word and Excel combo for the iPad from the App Store, hoping they’ll ultimately be willing to shell out more for a full version of the suite?”
Whatever Microsoft’s plan of monetizing this partnership with the iPad is, the joining of the business software giant and the superstar tablet is certain to transform the way content is created and the devices users choose to work with.