Office for IOS and Android: Microsoft Makes the Right Move

Andrés is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

An Office version for iOS and Android has been rumored for a long time and, according to The Verge, we should expect it early next year.  Some Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) investors are feeling deeply disappointed, considering this a surrender versus Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) in the all important war of the tech titans. It's clearly a defensive move, but it's still the right decision.

Aiming for the Third Place

Microsoft could have kept Office for itself, as a differentiating factor to power sales of Surface tablets and strengthen its alliance with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) in the smartphone business. The company really needs to make inroads into mobile, and is making a big effort on different fronts, so having exclusivity in Office for mobile devices could be an understandable decision.

On the other hand, this probably wouldn’t do much damage to Apple and Google. There are various productivity applications for iOS and Android which are compatible with Office, and Google Docs is becoming more popular by the day, both in desktop and mobile. People won't probably desist from buying an IOS or Android device because it doesn't have Office.

Apple and Google are way above Microsoft when it comes to the depth of their ecosystems and availability of applications. Instead of targeting them at this stage, Microsoft should try to beat RIM (NASDAQ: BBRY) in the competition for third place in mobile market share.

In spite of better than expected sales for the last quarter, RIM continues losing market share versus Apple and Google, so the Canadian company is a much more achievable target for Microsoft in the middle term. If Microsoft consolidates itself in the third position, it could gain more support from apps developers and hardware manufacturers, and it would be in a better position to target Google and Apple at a later stage.

According to The Verge:

We reached out to Microsoft for comment on this story and a company spokesperson says "Office will work across Windows Phone, iOS and Android."

No mention of BlackBerry devices, so perhaps Microsoft is planning an orderly strategy, going after RIM first and then considering the possibility of being more aggressive versus Apple and Google.

Being Defensive With Office

Keeping Office away from Google and Apple in mobile could be a very expensive mistake for Microsoft.  The mobile revolution is here to stay and grow, and Microsoft has been left behind from it.  The company is investing heavily in that business now, but it has absolutely no guarantee of success.

In case Surface and Windows operated smartphones fail to live up to expectations, at least Microsoft can become the productivity leader in mobile with Office for iOS and Android, even if that means surrendering to Apple and Google to some degree. After all, Office is still very popular in the corporate sector, and Microsoft is not in a position to be very picky.

Being Smart or Being Aggressive

Some Microsoft investors would prefer the company to go all in versus Apple and Google in the war for mobile computing, but withholding Office from iOS and Android would probably hurt Microsoft more than its competitors. The right way for Microsoft to recover the lost ground is not necessarily being more aggressive, but being more intelligent, and this is a move in the right direction.

acardenal owns shares of Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.

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