Have you given it a thought why Microsoft (MSFT) decided to launch the highly useful Office suite on iPad and not on Android tablets, though the latter has the highest market share? The event is indeed very much thought invoking.
Why Some Argue That Android Should Have Received Office
Apple (AAPL) is one of the prominent and probably the most aspired brand in the tablet market. But Google (GOOG) by the sheer power of volumes has turned out to be the champion in the space, having a command over almost 62% of the worldwide tablet market, as against Apple’s 36%. Taking the numbers into account, shouldn’t Microsoft have chosen Android to be the ideal platform for launching Office? Many feel so.
During 2013 Android grew by a mind-blowing 127% and a total of 121 million tablets were shipped powered by the Google OS. That’s huge! In comparison, Apple managed to ship just 70 million iPads. Though the volume for Apple has improved over the prior year’s 61.5 million, its market share dropped drastically from 52.8% to 36%.
The fall in the market share for Apple devices is not a new phenomenon, and has been continuing for some time now. The company’s hold over the market is dipping with each passing quarter and many industry experts believe this to be alarming.
But still Microsoft chose Apple over Google. Why? There ought to be a reason, especially because Microsoft surely doesn’t favor Apple and has no bias at all.
Analyzing Microsoft’s Move
Microsoft Office is a tool for people looking to work on it seriously, but not wanting to compromise on the convenience of using a tablet. Now, ordinarily tablets are pure consumption devices and software such as Office turns them into productive gadgets.
The kind of people using the tablet defines greatly how much the tablet will be used for productive purpose. People buying tablets just for entertainment purpose are not serious enough to put it to productive use. They plan to use it in their leisure time at home watching movie or surfing the web, while travelling and while communicating via mails. But again there are set of people who actively engage in serious work every day and their tablet are like oxygen to them.
The maximum of the second category of users can be found using an iPad and not Android powered tablets. Let’s take a look at the average audience of an iPad. The device is definitely an expensive one and not everyone can afford to own it. This doesn’t mean only working professionals own iPads. There are hundreds or probably thousands of teenagers as well who are iPad users. But the point is there is a proper mix of users for iPads, users with purchasing power and intention to use better device and better software.
In contrast, almost the entire user base of the Android powered tablets is seeking entertainment primarily. Only a selected few tablets such as Samsung (SSNLF) Galaxy Note Pro are used by professionals for serious productive work. But, the percentage of such use is next to nothing. Also, the entire chunk of Android users, barring a few, is never going to pay serious sum of money to buy productive software. Instead they are happy downloading free-to—use software off Google Play.
Again, launching Office for iPad incurred costs and had Microsoft launched one for Android too, that would also have a cost. What’s the point of making software for which there aren’t many users? On the other hand, majority of iPad users are expected to pay for the Office suite. So, for whom will Microsoft make the Office suite? The answer is an obvious iPad user.
Another point to consider is how did Android become popular and capture such market share? Through volumes! OEMs such as Samsung, Lenovo (LNVGY), HCL, and many more have flooded the market with cheap tablets, making it possible for anyone and everyone to own one. It’s the inclusion of devices such as these in the tablet category that has eroded Apple’s market share. Along with these players, many cheap Chinese tablet makers have totally spoiled the market. The buyers of such devices are very price-sensitive and want the devices at cheapest possible rates. They will never be buying the new Office, had it been launched for Android.
Surely there will be a few Android users genuinely interested in getting a dedicated Office suite for the platform, and I am sure they use high-end Android tablets that can perform great productive work. But, not many Android tablets are out there capable of that. However, there are millions of iPads which has capabilities to support such usage. So, the discussion can be reduced to making software for millions of tablets against only a few hundred.
Microsoft needs volume for its Office suite and launching the software on iOS was surely a wise choice made by Satya Nadella. Making it available on Android would have incurred costs against which benefits were not enough to motivate the company to take the step. May be, with changing times and considering the dynamic nature of the smartphone and tablet space, in the future Microsoft will also launch Office on Android. For now, I feel the company’s decision to choose iOS over Android is logical.