MS Office for iPhone About Driving Subscriptions

Microsoft Office for iPhoneSolution providers are welcoming the arrival of Microsoft Corp.’s Office of Apple Inc.’s iPhone, a version of the popular productivity suite built for the market-leading smartphone as an extension of the Office 365 cloud service.

Many solution providers are promoting the iPhone version as a means to drives sales of Office 365 subscriptions. To gain access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Skydrive on the iPhone, users or businesses must have subscriptions.

Analysts see Microsoft’s move as purely one of raising awareness of its products to non-Microsoft mobility users. By extending Office to the iPhone, Microsoft is increasing the utility of the mobile devices as an extension of conventional Windows-based PCs.

What Microsoft isn’t doing is making Office available for the iPad or myriad Google Inc. Android-based tablets. Analysts suspect Microsoft is holding back on a broad tablet strategy until market adoption of Windows-based tablets takes off.

Windows 8, released in October 2012 and designed for mobile devices, has been slow to gain market interests. Some analysts say Windows 8 is selling slower than the ill-fated Windows Vista.

But this isn’t about Windows; Office is a bigger moneymaker for Microsoft nowadays. What Microsoft has done, brilliantly or accidentally, is give solution providers something else to bark about and customers to chew on.

The average business is built around Windows and Office as its core PC applications. Consider that at least half of their employees own an iPhone. The compelling argument to switch to Office 365 is extending access to critical documents beyond the PC.

While critics say Office 365 is more expensive than buying single-machine licenses, the value of extended productivity is a compelling reason for customers to adopt the cloud service.

The downside: Microsoft still needs to work on the compensation for solution providers selling Office 365. Many solution providers tell Channelnomics the numbers don’t work in their favor, as Microsoft on provides scant single-digit share of the subscription after the first year.