WASHINGTON — Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once pretended to stomp on an iPhone, and vowed his children would never use Apple products.
This week, Microsoft is expected to announce its Office productivity software will be available on iPad.
“I think it’s important for Microsoft to put Office on the iPad because it actually risks becoming irrelevant,” says Larry Magid, CBS News and CNET technology analyst.
In announcing its Thursday event in San Francisco about “some news related to the intersection of cloud and mobile,” Microsoft did not specify it would make the iPad announcement, but multiple reports quote unnamed sources confirming the news.
Magid says despite Microsoft being a direct competitor of Apple in some areas, making some of its software available makes good business sense.
“Microsoft itself competes with Apple on hardware, but the bottom line is millions of people are using Apple hardware, including Microsoft’s own customer base, that wants to be able to use Office,” says Magid.
Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella has said Microsoft’s future success will rely on “mobile first, cloud first.”
Magid says to accomplish that, it would be important for Microsoft to make its software products usuable on the iOS and Android platforms, in addition to Microsoft’s own Windows platform.
“Why turn away potential customers for your software, just because they’re not buying either your hardware or hardware like PCs that run your operating system,” Magid asks.
“Microsoft neds to put its software where the users are, and when it comes to tablets that’s mostly Apple and Android,” says Magid.
Microsoft telegraphs its move to iPad by exclusion
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced Office 365 Personal, a less-expensive way for users to access the cloud-based version of Office.
Microsoft will issue a license for a new version of Office to individual users for $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year, which could be used on one personal computer (Windows or Macintosh) as well as one tablet computer.
The Personal option undercuts Office 365 Home Premium, at $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month, for five PCs or Macs and five smartphones.
However, in the Office 365 Personal blog post, Microsoft didn’t specify which tablet operating systems were included.
“Microsoft is attempting to compete with both Apple and Google-Android through Windows tablets, but the fact is they’re not getting nearly as much market share as either of their competitors,” says Magid.
“If they want to be relevant in the tablet world than they have to support the iPad and ultimately Android as well,” says Magid.