I don’t envy the new CEO of Microsoft in the decision to whether or not release the quite clearly ‘finished and ready to go’ Microsoft Office for iPad.
Should Microsoft release it, giving their main competitor in the tablet market and advantage?
The iPad has already done very well thank you in the business sector, without having even a smell of a Microsoft product on it, and releasing it will further give the last few business that are still waiting for Microsoft’s ‘answer’ to tablet computing to come along, even less reason to stop computers with Apple logos on them coming over the threshold.
This is what happens when you try to have your cake and eat it – Microsoft cannot be a software supplier to OEM’s, and also have a hardware line that competes with them.
Apple knows this, and have known it since Steve Jobs came back and pointed it out to them – they’ve exploited this USP ever since. Witness the unfolding ‘in and out’ behaviour of Google – they also cannot be a software supplier to OEM’s, and also have a hardware line that competes with them.
However, the once question that nobody is asking is – how much will it cost?
Way back when Apple first released their selection of apps for the iPhone, the cost was surprisingly minuscule, $2.99 if I remember correctly.
There was much gnashing of teeth from developers at that point, how were they supposed to make money when Apple effectively set the price so low?
Well, the reason is because Apple need to do the opposite to Microsoft – they make money on software and then the OEM’s make little or no money on the hardware, with Apple, it has to be the other way around.
So, how much will it be Microsoft?
Releasing a stripped down Office app for the iPad (it will have to be), and charge anything above $99, and you may as well not bother.
Sell it cheap, to compete with iWork and you won’t be able to make a profit – all your money comes from software.
Make it free with an Office 365 subscription is a none starter – nobody will choose that when there are many ‘just good enough’ Office-compatible apps on the iPad already available.
So, you can see why Ballmer hesitated in releasing it – whatever they do, it will hurt them in some way.
What Nadella does next will be worth watching.