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Google exec: Office on iPad decision is a no win for Microsoft

by Michael Singer

May 2 2013

Google's Alan Masarek says Microsoft faces a pricing dilemma should it ever decide to release Office for the iPad.
Google's Alan Masarek says Microsoft faces a pricing dilemma should it ever decide to release Office for the iPad.

Microsoft’s resistance to allowing its Office software suite on the iPad and Android devices only amplifies Microsoft’s weakness on tablets, a Google executive said.

NEW YORK - The issue comes down to how Microsoft sees its position now that the go-go years for laptops and PCs are over, according to Alan Masarek, Director of Chrome and Apps at Google and former CEO of Quickoffice.

People are looking at their tablet as a productivity device, Masarek said during a presentation earlier this week at the Tablet Strategy conference here. "But is Microsoft acting like a software provider or a platform provider when they can’t commit to putting their software on all tablets or only on their own Windows 8 and Windows RT devices?” 

Microsoft’s current tablet solution for its suite of Word/Excel/PowerPoint is to offer Microsoft Office 365, the online version of its productivity software that includes added features such as OneNote, SharePoint, Skype, and SkyDrive, a cloud-based storage system.

How much is that Office in the Windows?

Reports continue to circulate that Microsoft has already developed the application, and that Apple and Microsoft are butting heads over app revenue fees. Another reason Microsoft is widely considered to be holding back is that it wants to limit Office to Windows 8 to give those tablets a competitive edge. And then there is the question of pricing; most iPad apps cost much less than Microsoft typically charges. Masarek said a native Office app would likely have a high price to value ratio.

“How can you charge say $40 for an app suite on the tablet with only limited capabilities?” Masarek asked rhetorically. 

And even if a native Office app comes to the tablet, Masarek says most people won’t take full advantage of its features.

“In studies we’ve done, 90% of consumers want email and [personal organizer software], web and lighter productivity, and to be able to collaborate with others,” said Masarek. 

The larger point Masarek made in his closing remarks, is that change is inevitable. He showed two graphics from Google's research illustrating what the search giant says was the acceptance levels of cloud computing, smartphones and Windows in 2008 versus 2013.

Whereas Windows was comfortably "Accepted" in business only five years ago, cloud computing was "Rejected." What a difference five years makes. The current vibe, by Google's reckoning, is that Windows is "Tolerated", cloud is "Accepted" and tablets, which weren't even worth asking about five years ago, are "Embraced".

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