Why is Microsoft Office Mobile iOS app ‘Optimized for iPhone’ and for Office 365 Subscribers only?
Microsoft released a mobile Office app for iOS devices ‘optimized for iPhone’ yesterday and it works only when you have an Office 365 subscription. The app is currently on top of the free iPhone app list according to iOSappStats.com.
The app is definitely useful for those who have an Office 365 subscription and want to edit their documents while on the move. The interface is quite intuitive and with features such as Recent Documents panel, accessibility through SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint the app does come in handy if there are some urgent changes needed while on the go. Read Microsoft Mobile Office for iOS: First impressions.
One may wonder as to why would Microsoft limit the app just to Office 365 subscribers and on top of that why would it be optimized for iPhone only and why not iPad? Another thing is that why is the feature set limited? Read on to find out…
Optimized for iPhone
Microsoft released the Office Mobile app such that it works on all iOS devices but, it has only been optimized for mobile devices – meaning just the iPhone. It didn’t contain a tablet version of the app and I believe it is because Microsoft wants to maintain an upper hand when it comes to Office for tablet with its Windows RT.
Even though the app works find on tablet devices, Microsoft is not recommending tablet users to use the app. Microsoft’s stand on this is, “We built Office Mobile for iPhone to ensure a great Office experience when using a small screen device, similar to Office Mobile for Windows Phone.”
“Like all iPhone apps, Office Mobile can work on iPad, either small or “2X” scaled up, but you’ll have a more satisfying experience using Office Web Apps,” Microsoft notes further. See where this is going?
If you want a complete Office experience on a tablet, your best option is to go for a Windows RT tablet – either the Surface RT or some tablet from other vendor that comes loaded with Windows RT or a Surface Pro (if you don’t mind spending too much). Microsoft hasn’t been able to make an impression with its tablet offering and taking Apple head-on in this arena may be an option but, attacking through ancillary means such as this may probably yield results.
Considering that Microsoft is looking to expand its Office productivity offering for iOS as well, it has all the best of interests for Windows RT and with the launch of this particular app, Microsoft has not only managed to enter the iPhone app regime it has also managed to retain Windows RT’s edge when it comes for Office for tablets.
Not for all
Another thing that many are asking is that why has Microsoft not released the app for all users? If you think it through, you will have the answer – to retain the edge of its Windows Phone smartphones.
If you buy a Windows Phone – be it Lumia range of phones from Nokia or from Samsung or from HTC, you will have access to Office app without actually paying anything extra. You can pretty much carry out all the functions that the iOS app has to offer and that too without requiring a subscription to Office 365. Just upload a document to your SkyDrive and you are ready to roll.
This strategy from Microsoft is two-fold again – protect the interest of Office 365 users who own an iPhone but, still retain Windows Phone’s edge compared to its iOS counterpart.