Riding the wave of Apple’s record-breaking Black Friday comes an interesting, if somewhat inevitable-seeming, report suggesting that software giant Microsoft is planning to release an iPad-specific app for its popular Office suite.
The iPad-native website The Daily reported the news on Tuesday, suggesting that Microsoft, clearly recognizing the growing ubiquity of the iPad (as well as the obvious revenue gold mine it represents), is working on an app version of its widely used Office products.
At the SmartVan we’ve discussed a number of times the impact tablets are having on enterprises and how companies like Coca-Cola and Macy’s have begun outfitting their field-service employees with iPads. It’s no secret that tablets generally — and specifically the iPad — are making inroads into enterprise businesses. Now it seems one of the biggest software companies is getting in on the tablet game, too.
The news comes amidst glowing sales reports for the iPad. Analysis this week revealed a record-breaking 68 percent surge in the tablet’s sales on Black Friday, with nearly 15 units sold per store each hour, according to Piper Jaffray. Estimates also predict Apple will sell over 13 million iPads in the December quarter, also a record.
The reports of an impending Office iPad app look like a game-changer, both for personal consumers and for enterprise businesses. If the reports are indeed true — and certainly it would seem like a no-brainer for Microsoft to deliver Office to iPad users — it would mean some of the most widely used software on the planet will finally be available on the world’s most popular tablet. (The iPad claims an 80 percent market share.) And for the countless service companies that already use Microsoft Office products on their desktop and laptop computers — including Word, Excel and Outlook — the idea of being able to open and edit those files from the field has to make the adoption of the iPad that much more enticing.
Field technicians who are already comfortable with Excel, Word and the rest of the Office suite wouldn’t have to worry about learning new technology on their iPad. Similarly, for those businesses that have recently purchased iPads but experienced a rocky implementation period due to unfamiliar software and business applications, Microsoft Office on the iPad could be a saving grace.
While a slew of more complex, dynamic and flexible business app solutions do exist out there, the truth is that many companies are still tied to Microsoft’s flagship suite — after all, it’s familiar, simple, and trusted. For many businesses, that’s plenty.
No official date yet for the Office iPad app has been announced by Microsoft, though it seems a near-certainty. If released, would you be interested in it for your business? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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