If you want to use Microsoft Office on your iOS or Android device, you'll have to wait until the fall of 2014. That's what the speculators are saying, anyway.
News reports suggest that the rumored Office for iOS and Android apps are still more than a year off, which could empower Google to further erode Microsoft's mobile productivity app market share.
The delay also makes it more difficult for millions of iPhone and iPad users to work on Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and other documents on their mobile devices. Some reason that Microsoft is holding back in order to give its Windows-based tablets an advantage in the market. But that strategy could backfire.
Delaying Widespread Adoption
We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, to get his take on the delay. He told us it does appear that iOS and Android users will have to wait another 18 months to get Office on their devices -- and that could be a painful wait for everybody.
"Typically, Microsoft has done best when they've had Office support on top of new platforms." When they don't, it just delays adoption of those new platforms, Enderle said. "Even with the Windows tablets, they won't have full Outlook."
As Adam Holt, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, sees it, Office exclusivity on Windows tablets is important, but the iPad opportunity may be larger. He points out that Microsoft actually sees a three to four times higher paid Office installation rate on Macs (30 percent to 40 percent) than Windows machines (10 percent to 15 percent).
Leaving Billions on the Table
Microsoft could also be leaving billions of dollars on the table. Holt says Microsoft could be missing a $2.5 billion opportunity in choosing not to offer Office on the mobile platform. Although Microsoft makes its CRM software available for the iPad, Apple users are left in the cold when it comes to other Microsoft productivity apps.
"While Microsoft has resisted offering a full version of Office for the iOS, the company may ultimately decide there is more upside with Office on iPads, particularly if Win tablets fall short of expectations," Holt wrote in a research note. "The Surface RT likely sold only 900K-1M units in CQ4, while OEMs have pulled back on tablet builds and it may be difficult for MSFT to reach much more than 10% tablet share in CY13."
Holt figures attaching Office to new iPad units for the fiscal year 2014 could add $1.3 billion in revenue. And that's really the low side. That number supposes only 30 percent of iPad users would install Office on their iPad. If every iPad user opted to install Office, that number rises to $2.5 billion. Android sales could add even more to the total.