The rumors are flying that Microsoft will finally unveil its Office for iPad at a press event on March 27. New CEO Satya Nadella will be hosting his first press event that day. It is likely Nadella will want to make his mark quickly and establish his strategy for leading the company right off.
Nadella has reportedly been talking about a “mobile first, cloud first” strategy since he began his new job six weeks ago. The invitations indicate that mobile and the Cloud will be the topic at the March 27 event in San Francisco. Many are interpreting the signals to mean the long-overdue Microsoft Office for iPad announcement.
The timing would be a propos. The company is holding a Build conference for developers the following week. A juicy announcement the week before would add excitement to the conference.
While it is not known if it will be part in the March 27 event, Microsoft Office for the iPad and Android tablets is known to have been in development for some time. The company squandered a tremendous marketing opportunity by not releasing a version of its word processing, spreadsheet and presentation suite for non-Microsoft tablets earlier. It has lost an estimated $2.5 billion in revenue by not developing a version earlier for the 200 million iPads out there and considerable amount of Android tablets. In addition, several competitors have introduced alternatives to Word, Excel and PowerPoint for tablets that have been well-received.
It is believed that Microsoft held off on developing Office software for iPad or Android tablets to give its own Surface Tablet a chance to take off. They tried to emphasize in television ads that Surface tablets “have Office,” but that apparently has not been a sales driver. After a couple of years, the Surface market share is barely over 2 percent. Last year, the company took a $900 million write-down on the tablet. It is likely that the Surface will go the way of the Zune portable media player Microsoft put out to compete with iPods, which was discontinued five years after its underwhelming debut.
The company did introduce a version of Microsoft Office Mobile for iPhones last June. It is believed the iPad version will follow suit and require an Office 365 subscription for editing capabilities.
Microsoft also made OneNote available Monday for all operating systems, including Apple’s. The software is also tied into Office 365.
Plans for a personal version of Office 365 were announced recently. The personal version of Office 365 will be available for use on one tablet and one computer for $69.99 a year or $6.99 a month. The Office 365 Personal version will work on PC or Mac platforms and Microsoft was coy in not specifying what type of tablet it is for. (They have specified the Microsoft tablet in the past.)
Microsoft Office has long been a huge money-maker for the company since its 1990 debut. The company needs to ensure it is the standard across all platforms and be more nibble about adapting to new marketing opportunities. So, it will be interesting to see the tone set March 27 for Nadella’s public debut since he taking over the Microsoft CEO office, and if the rumors that of an iPad announcement will come true at his inaugural event.
By Dyanne Weiss