Microsoft Office free on iOS and Android? Yes indeed. In a move to gain back some interest and user base from Google Apps and iWork, Microsoft has made its Office Suite for mobile free. Office has been a long running standard in the productivity software business but has recently seen some stiff competition from both Google and Apple. Google in particular has cut into the market offering its online productivity suite of Google Apps which includes cloud storage. With many users going mobile the need for a full blown Office desktop suite is dwindling which is giving Google an edge with its offering.
“Lots of consumers don’t need a PC,” said Rick Sherlund, an analyst at Nomura Securities. “They just need an Internet connection. They don’t need Office as much.”
“We’d like to dramatically increase the number of people trying Office,” John Case, corporate vice president of Office marketing at Microsoft, said about the new offering. “This is about widening the funnel.”
Microsoft needs to reign in some of those mobile users to remain relevant and competitive in the market. People are increasingly finding it more convenient to use their Android tablet or iPad as a mobile computing device and many default to iWork (free on iOS) and Google Apps (free on both). But is Microsoft shooting itself in the foot by providing Office free with stipulations?
“Office for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets is indeed free, within certain bounds,” Miller elaborated later Thursday in a post to his personal blog. “Office is free for you to use on your smartphone or tablet if, and only if you are not using it for commercial purposes [and] you are not performing advanced editing.”
So that alone dramatically narrows Microsoft’s reach to personal use users. That slams the door on business users who are heavy users of Office apps and doing that will certainly hurt Microsoft. The idea of offering Office mobile for free is an excellent one, this implementation is not so stellar though. Alienating a large portion of your user base isn’t going to win anyone to your side. Microsoft should probably rethink this if they want any chance of taking on Google Apps and iWork. What are your thoughts on this situation? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.