You don’t have to be an expert in IT and software to know that Microsoft and Apple are two companies that have been at odds historically. The enmity between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates is the stuff of legends, even though, most likely, it was for the large part fabricated by the media. Beyond rumors and urban myths, though, there are several key differences in terms of business models between the two companies, which explain the animosity right away: where Apple has been groundbreaking and innovative, Microsoft remained consistent, yet conservative. However, the recent Microsoft Office for iPad record number of downloads may just signal the beginning of a completely new chapter in this story. For once, it looks like Apple and Microsoft have partnered up and where once there was animosity, there’s a whole lot of understanding. Let’s take a look at how the Microsoft Office app suite for the world’s most popular tablet managed to change all that.
Before the release of the app suite, many rushed to say that Microsoft took far too long to come out with the Office suite for the iPad. In the meantime, numerous contenders had come out with, and even perfected, several other apps that fulfilled the roles played by Word, PowerPoint, and Excel on PCs. Evernote is one example of a great text processor, while email apps to compensate for a lack of Microsoft Outlook literally abound. The market seemed oversaturated and, for a while there, it certainly looked like there was no place on it for Office. Yet the Microsoft Office for iPad record number of downloads proved those naysayers wrong: the apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and One Note) reached a combined number of 12 million downloads in the single week that has elapsed since their launch.
How the Apple – Microsoft game was changed by Office
As of the date this article was written, a cursory glance at the Apple App Store free iPad app chart bore undeniable proof to the success of the Office suite. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint ranked as the top three free apps and had spent the past week in that comfortable position of supremacy. Many argue that Microsoft finally got their game right by offering the apps as freemium software. They’re absolutely free to download, for anyone who wants to view a Microsoft Word document, PowerPoint presentation, or Excel chart on their Apple tablet. But if you also want to edit those files and documents, you’re going to need to buy a subscription to Office 365. The starting price is $10 per month and if you subscribe in-app, 30 per cent of the money you spend goes straight into Apple’s coffers.
It is perhaps pecuniary reasons such as these that have cemented the newfound friendship between the two one-time rivals. The outpour of support from Apple, in anticipation of the Microsoft release for iPad was big enough to also include big advertising banners in the App Store. It didn’t stop at ads either – the execs of the two companies enjoyed an amicable exchange of repartees over Twitter, prior to the big day of the release. You can check out the exchange between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella here.
Now, in the wake of the release and of the Microsoft Office download record, some are rushing to claim that the relationship between the two companies is going to evolve in time into one of mutual respect. The ads for the Surface tablet, however, indicate that this might still be some time away – yet one can’t help but wonder if Apple simply no longer regards Microsoft as a worthy opponent and if its place hasn’t been taken by the likes of Samsung and Google, in the meantime.