Office for iPad: A Smart Move
Andrés is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is launching an Office app for iPad this year. This is not the first time we've heard such a rumor, and it seems to be gaining traction. From Bloomberg:
Microsoft Corp. is preparing to release its first-ever version of its Office software for Apple Inc.’s mobile devices this year, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The software will make the word-processing program Word and spreadsheet-maker Excel available on Apple’s iPad tablets and iPhones, said the people, who requested anonymity because the product hasn’t been made public.
This is clearly good news for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) investors, and although some resistance is to be expected from Microsoft shareholders, such a move would actually benefit the software giant in the long term. There is not much need to explain why Apple would benefit from such a move -- Office is tremendously popular, especially in the corporate market and it certainly helps to have an Office app for iPad.
From Microsoft's perspective, many investors may see this decision as surrender, a sign of weakness from Mr. Softee, by recognizing they cannot compete against Apple anymore. Let's be clear about this: tablets are here to stay, and Microsoft doesn't have a competitive product in that space. If it ever does, it will still take years for Microsoft to develop and market a product that can be considered a real competition for iPad.
Besides, it's not true that Microsoft can inflict much damage against the iPad by restraining from selling Office in that platform. Quickoffice from Google is an application that allows viewing and editing of Office documents in iPads, and CloudOn is another popular app that lets consumers use Word, Excel and PowerPoint on tablets. Users had access to Office in iPad anyway, so Microsoft is doing the smart thing by trying to profit from that trend.
iPads account for 97% of tablets bought by businesses in the first quarter, according to Good Technology Inc., a maker of wireless-device security technology. Microsoft has the brand power and reputation to position itself as the leader in business applications for tablets.
Microsoft investors would obviously prefer to have a competitive tablet fully working under Microsoft's operating system, and that's still a possibility, but not something which can be done right away. By choosing this strategy, Microsoft is at least working to solidify the dominance of Office in computers and tablets.
The war between big tech companies is fought on many different battle fronts; in the battle for mobile, Apple is way ahead of Microsoft. The software giant is doing the right thing by adapting to this circumstance and trying to protect its strength in business software.
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