Microsoft Launches Office for iPad

As I was getting ready to head into the studio this morning, I asked myself whether I should bring my iPad with me. I didn’t. In hindsight, that was a dumb decision, considering today’s release of Office for iPad.

There’s going to be a debate today over whether these apps are really that significant. The iPad has sold extremely well without Office, and its intimacy is welcoming for productivity, even without PowerPoint and Word. But, make no mistake, these are important applications for Microsoft, and they’re considering this a big deal: these apps have been in the works since just after the first iPad launched, but held up by red tape. Consider, too, that this is the first public presentation as CEO for Satya Nadella, and it’s about iPad support. Big news.

Since I left my iPad on my desk, though, my initial impressions will have to wait. For now, I’m intrigued by Microsoft’s business model, as explained by Emil Protalinski:

Just like for the iPhone, the iPad version of these apps is free to download and view documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Once you want to edit documents, however, a paid subscription to Office 365 is required. […]

The Office 365 Home Premium subscription costs $99 per year, or $10 per month. A cheaper subscription (Office 365 Personal) has been announced, but it’s not available just yet.

That compares to the iWork suite’s price of free with the purchase of a new iOS device post-October 2013. Its cost makes me feel comfortable about Microsoft’s business model. Consider:

  • Apple makes their money on hardware sales. Therefore, they can give away iWork for iOS by baking its development costs into the overall iOS development costs.
  • Google makes their money on targeted advertising. Therefore, they can give away Google Drive because they’re scraping documents and tailoring ad content as a result. That’s pretty creepy, and might be against your employer’s best practices for confidentiality of information.
  • Microsoft doesn’t make money on iPad hardware sales, nor do they scrape Office documents for ads. Therefore, they charge you money to use their software beyond the basics. Makes sense to me.