The question of Office for iOS has burned for a year, but a release is still up in the air with comments by Microsoft Chief Steve Ballmer at yesterday’s « new » Office 365 launch.
Asked about Office for the iPad, Ballmer gave a terse reply: « I have nothing to say on the topic. »
« We’re very happy with the product that we’re putting in market, » Ballmer told Bloomberg. « It makes sense on the devices like the Mac and the PC. We have a product that we think makes a lot of sense. We do have a way for people always to get to Office through the browser, which is very important. And we’ll see what we see in the future.
Rumours that Office would be coming to iPads and iPhone in March 2013 surfaced late last year after Microsoft’s Czech office announced Office Mobile for Android and iOS, allowing owners of Apple devices to purchase a subscription to Office 365. In the meantime, the only tablet on which Office is available is Microsoft’s own Surface.
The fundamental issue thought to be behind the delay in bringing Office to iOS is Microsoft’s unwillingness to pay Apple’s 30-percent commission on apps sold through its App Store. Negotiations on the issue derailed Microsoft’s plans to update its SkyDrive app for iOS last year, according to All Things Digital.
Microsoft also announced on Tuesday that the Home Premium version of Office would get tighter integration with its SkyDrive cloud storage service, along with Skype calling.
Despite Microsoft’s late entry to a market that Dropbox cornered early, Ballmer told Bloomberg that he remains unfazed by the « fine little start-up » and its 100 million users, which, he noted, are dwarfed by Microsoft’s billion for its Office cash cow. (How many users does Microsoft’s Dropbox rival Skydrive have? It’s not quite clear; last month, Microsoft said more than 200 million people « have used » SkyDrive, but didn’t give a figure on how many are still active users.)
A key difference between the two, according to Ballmer, is that Dropbox is dominated by consumers, while Office 365 gets a much higher percentage of revenue from business customers. That said, Dropbox is making its way into the enterprise: a recent study found that one in five corporate IT users are using the service to store work documents.