Good news from Microsoft HQ. Its long awaited Office for iPad apps are a huge success.
Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote have been downloaded a massive 12 million times in the last week.
Understandably, the Big M was crowing about this headline figure on Twitter, especially as it comes when so many questioned whether it could hold its own against Google Drive and Apple iWork among others.
Except, there’s on almighty snag. That huge number only includes downloads, not users.
When it comes to the latter, Microsoft is keeping schtum. Why?
Well, it says it’s ‘extremely pleased’ with its weeks work, but it won’t reveal true numbers because to use any of the Office for iPad apps properly (i.e. for more than reading only), you need an Office 365 subscription.
For that, you’ll need to hand over £70. And not just once, but every twelve months.
Of course, Microsoft knows that most people use and are familiar with its productivity apps.
They’re the standard in offices across the globe, whereas its freebie rivals aren’t.
Despite that, at a time when free options are improving, allow you to save Microsoft versions of documents and offering breezy cloud syncing through cloud services such as iCloud and Drive, who really wants to fork out that much every single year?
iPad owners aren’t shy about spending on apps.
But millions downloading the free read–only version of an app doesn’t make Office for iPad a success.
Of course, that doesn’t play into the narrative of new CEO Satya Nadella’s ‘mobile-first, cloud-first’ strategy.
He, and Microsoft in general, need to be seen to be making this a success, as well as moving on from the supposedly dinosaur days of Steve Ballmer, the iPad refusenik.
But surely the question has to be asked. Wouldn’t Microsoft have been better charging a nominal fee for Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote, hooking in a few hundred thousand to start with and building from there.
A one off payment of, say, £15, would have been a lot easier to swallow.
As it is, surely many users have downloaded the app, realised they need to pay big and binned it immediately.
Handing out this free app may give the illusion of Microsoft changing its tune.
But charging such a big amount shows it’s still living in the past.
Its productivity suite is surely the best. But why would users stump up when they get decent alternatives without paying?