Microsoft’s long-awaited Office suite for iOS (separate from Office 365) is reportedly “ready for release,” it’s just a matter of when new CEO, Satya Nadella, wants to hand it over to consumers. The report from Reuters, speaking to sources close to Microsoft’s plans, claim the Redmond company is reeling as its business customers ditch Office in favor of cheaper alternatives, largely in the mobile environment. Old habits die-hard, it seems.
Reuters identifies one company in particular, New York-based Artivest Holdings Inc., that is currently using a service called Quip instead of Microsoft’s Office suite. This is just one example, too. Microsoft is reportedly losing up to $2.5 billion a year in revenue, according to one analyst estimate, by keeping Office out of the mobile environment, where a lot of consumers are migrating to. Artivest CEO told Reuters that the company currently deals with zero Microsoft Word documents, which could be a similar sentiment across other companies and industries.
The frequency in which companies are abandoning Office for cheaper alternatives has reportedly caused Microsoft to refocus its efforts on bringing the software to smartphones and tablets. There are some ways to use Office on mobile, via Office 365 – which requires a subscription – has limited editing options and isn’t as intuitive as a standalone dedicated application designed for the touch environment. Nadella’s apprehension on releasing Office for iOS is apparently due to the balance between widening Office’s customers and pleasing Windows fans.
Office has long been one of Microsoft’s most profitable products, and investors for years have urged the company to adapt Office for Android and iOS. But it could very well be too little too late, as businesses and other customers seek out other solutions. Even if Microsoft does come out with something, there are plenty of mobile alternatives out there for Apple and Google devices; Apple, for example, offers its suite of iWork and iLife apps for free to new Mac and iOS customers. Google, meanwhile, offers Google Docs.
Microsoft has tried to push its recent products, particularly the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro, as stronger alternatives in the tablet market. But customers still flock to Android and iOS, meaning millions of customers are potentially staying out of the Office environment. One analyst described Microsoft’s resistance as disenfranchising Office “on the hottest growth platforms.”
The most recent rumors, one from October 2013 and the other from February, claimed Office for iPad wouldn’t be released until “touch first” development for Windows was complete; the release, meanwhile, is expected to debut before July.