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Why Microsoft’s Office for iPad strategy still doesn’t make sense

Ballmer has re-ignited anticipation for an iPad version of the Microsoft Office suite. Don’t get too excited yet, though. Ballmer told an audience at a Gartner event in Florida that the iPad version won’t come until after a touch-first version is developed for Windows.

My first reaction to the news was to shake my head and wonder if Microsoft is still stubbornly clinging to the idea that it can drive sales of Windows mobile devices by holding Microsoft Office hostage. As Microsoft has struggled to compete with iOS and Android, many have suggested that it would be foolish of Microsoft to offer Office on competing platforms because it would take away Microsoft’s only “carrot” for luring people to its own mobile devices.

office ipad android
Ballmer promises an iPad version of Microsoft Office is coming … eventually.

Well, that carrot has been dangled, and nobody is biting. As popular and dominant as the Microsoft Office applications may be among productivity software rivals, the fact is that Windows Phone and Windows tablets have included Microsoft Office and they’re still floundering. Any expectation that Microsoft Office will drive sales has apparently failed.

That isn’t to say that Microsoft Office itself is to blame, though. It remains the default productivity suite for businesses and consumers, and the demand is there (albeit waning as time goes by) on competing mobile platforms. It’s just that there are suitable alternative apps available, and Microsoft Office itself is not enough to sway someone to Microsoft mobile devices.

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