The tech world was aflutter earlier this week as Microsoft announced that (a mere four years after the launch of the iPad) they were releasing Office (specifically Word, Excel and Powerpoint) as native, touch optimized apps on the iPad. I have read a broad array of coverage on this development and none of it explored the broader implications of the move, which I happen to think are a way more important development that the arrival of new productivity tools on the iPad.
First and foremost, the arrival of Office on the iPad heralds the beginning of a major partnership between Apple and Microsoft. How so? Well, Microsoft is selling access to edit documents on the iPad (the individual apps are free to use as document viewers) as in app purchases. That means Apple gets 30% of the revenue. What Microsoft is selling though is not just full access to Office on the iPad. They’re selling Office 365 memberships which also include a license for full Office on five computers and five tablets. Please stop and think about that for a second. Apple will be getting a 30% cut of most new Office 365 licenses going forward. That is an absolutely huge win for Apple and a huge concession by Microsoft.
Microsoft is upping the cloud storage ante by offering 200GB of free SkyDrive storage for two years to buyers of their new Surface and Surface Pro tablets.
More and more I’m seeing companies bundling in cloud storage with their storage limited (i.e. flash storage) hardware. I believe that Google offers 50GB with the purchase of a Chromebook. Other device manufacturers have special deals with Box and DropBox. The intent is the same across the board. Soothe people’s anxiety about not having enough local storage to keep all of their stuff in hand.
Microsoft is way out in front with their new 200GB offer, but like the Google deal the free storage is temporary. So if you continue to utilize the storage you will have an ongoing cost that May or may not be competitive with other alternatives.
I can’t say that Microsoft’s offer would convince me to buy one of their tabs. I do believe it will push other cloud storage companies to raise the amount of storage in their free tiers and that is definitely a good thing.
After digesting Apple’s recent iOS 7 event it became clear to me that now more than ever the internet ecosystem that a particular mobile device is connected to is becoming almost as important as the hardware and software on the device. It’s true that sales of mobile devices make Apple a lot of money but it’s the lock-in effect of Apple’s ecosystem that ensures a continuing stream of revenue and future device purchases.
A case in point as far as Apple is concerned is FaceTime video chat. At first FaceTime seemed like a folly in the face of Skype’s dominance. But now that Apple has sold hundreds of millions of iOS devices and Macs that support FaceTime it has become the default video chat client for many iPhone and iPad users. The same goes for Apple’s iMessage service. When I know that someone has an iPhone I’m more likely to iMessage them than send an email when I’m on the go. The lack of the 160 character text message limit is incredibly helpful. And the ability to send and receive on my iPad and Mac make iMessage much more useful than standard texting. I’m seeing iCloud photo streams getting used more within my family too.