Microsoft’s Office 365 app for the iPhone announcement is unusual:
One: the news was surprisingly low-key considering getting Office 365 on an iOS device is strategic to the company. Android may outsell Apple’s iPhone, but iOS an important market for Microsoft. There was no flashy press function, Microsoft slipped the news out quietly through its Office 365 blog.
Two: Officially the software is known as Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers. Microsoft has a track record of giving products terrible names, but this sets a whole new level of awfulness, particularly with the word Office appearing twice.
Three: Going by the promotional material, the app is substantially different to the Office app included with Windows Phone 8. The app is basic, it wouldn’t be enough on its own. To make use of it you also need Office 365 on a PC or Mac and to save documents to a Skydrive account.
Four: You need to have an Office 365 subscription, that’s NZ$165. If you already have Office 365 you can sign-in with your existing account, if you don’t you can buy one through the iTunes store. That means Apple earns 30 percent of the deal, which makes for an interesting relationship between the two companies.
Five: Microsoft’s app is for the iPhone only, not the iPad. This is curious because Microsoft needs to get fondleslab users hooked on Office before they find alternative tools.
Microsoft rightly says iPad users will find the free web-delivered Office apps more useful. But it underestimates the marketing importance of distributing an app via the iTunes app store. And while it might sound trivial, some Office users would feel more comfortable with an Office icon on their iPad’s home screen.