Office for iPad: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing

on March 27, 2014
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Microsoft finally appears ready to launch a version of Office for iPad. A wolf among the sheep? Or a sheep in wolf’s clothing?

Plan A: Ignore The iPad

REALITY

  1. The iPad goes on sale, April 2010.

MICROSOFT’S REASONING

  1. There is nothing to fear from the iPad.

It’s not like I sit there and feel the same way I did with iPhone, where I say, ‘Oh my God, Microsoft didn’t aim high enough.’ It’s a nice reader, but there’s nothing on the iPad I look at and say, ‘Oh, I wish Microsoft had done it. ~ Bill Gates

  1. The iPad doesn’t even run Office.

Without Office, there would be darkness and chaos.

  1. Stay calm and carry on.

Never underestimate our ability to ignore the obvious. ~ Po Bronson

  1. All will be well.

Cheer up, the worst is yet to come. ~ Philander Johnson

Plan B: The Surface

REALITY

  1. Okay, okay, that iPad thingie is selling pretty well.

Nothing is more humiliating than to see idiots succeed in enterprises we have failed in. ~ Gustave Flaubert

MICROSOFT’S REASONING

  1. We need our own tablet alternative.

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better. ~ Richard Hooker

  1. The iPad is just a toy.

Microsoft is very clever but sometimes they let their brains go to their head.

  1. Apple has sold millions upon millions of iPads, but clearly they’re doing it all wrong. What people REALLY want is a tablet that runs like a desktop and a desktop that runs like a tablet. The two operating systems shouldn’t be separate, they should run side-by-side!

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up. ~ Robert Frost

  1. What people REALLY want is a 2-in-1 computer that can run Windows and do “real work.”

A patient was at her doctor’s office after undergoing a complete physical exam. The doctor said, “I have some very grave news for you. You only have six months to live.” The patient asked, “Oh doctor, what should I do?” The doctor replied, “Buy a Microsoft Surface Computer with Office.” “Will that make me live longer?” asked the patient. “No,” said the doctor, “but it will SEEM longer.”

  1. We’ll throw in Microsoft Office too. That will make up for the one million missing applications.

It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning. ~ Claude Bernard

Plan C: Office For iPhone

REALITY

  1. Surface sales seriously suck.

MICROSOFT’S REASONING

  1. I don’t get it. If customer’s can’t live without Office, then why aren’t they dead?

If brains were gas, you wouldn’t have enough to power a scooter around the inside of a Froot Loop.

  1. I know! Customer’s DO want Office but they also want iPads.

Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be. ~ Jack Welch

  1. The Surface is the problem. No, BALLMER is the problem! Cut Windows loose from Surface. Cut Ballmer loose from Microsoft!

If you can talk brilliantly about a problem, it can create the consoling illusion that it has been mastered. ~ Stanley Kubrick

  1. Let’s start by selling Office for iPhone!

I spent a month using Office for iPhone — I think it was on a Sunday. ((Inspired by W. C. Fields))

  1. Great, now everything will be okeedokee.

Apparently, if you stay in Redmond, you lose two points of IQ every year. ((Inspired by Truman Capote))

Plan D: Office For iPad

Cartoon sheep
REALITY

  1. No one gave a damn about Office on the iPhone. Or even noticed it.

Most people wanted to ignore Office for iPhone because Office for iPhone ignored what most people wanted.

MICROSOFT’S REASONING

  1. OK, we’ve wasted four long years not selling Office for iPad.

A lion walks into a bar and says, “I’d like a whisky and . . . a packet of peanuts, please.” The bartender replies, “Why the big pause?”

  1. The Office for iPhone thing didn’t work out quite the way we planned, but what people REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want is Office, but they want it on the iPad.

Dope springs eternal.

  1. Some analysts estimate that since 30% of Mac users own office, as many as 30% of iPad users will buy Office too.

I don’t know what you’re on but it can’t be legal.

  1. It won’t help sell Surface tablets, but it will make a lot of money. How much money?

“The day they introduce Office for iOS and Android, they’ll start printing money.” ~ Bob O’Donnell, then an analyst with IDC

Plan E: Everything Could Go Wrong

Normally, I like to make my predictions after the fact. I find it improves my accuracy. But I’m going to go out on a limb and predict Office for iPad will be a great big nothing. It has too many things working against it.

There is no question Office is good at what it’s good at. But is that good enough?

The main reason Office sold as well as it did was because it held a monopoly on Windows PCs. This has caused Microsoft to vastly overestimate its popularity. Here’s how Microsoft pictures its Office Suite:

Beautiful showgirls dancing cancan

Here’s how business users picture Microsoft’s Office Suite:

Old men dancing

Here’s how consumers picture Microsoft’s Office Suite:

Sub

  1. There are plenty of free Office Suites available.
  2. There are over 100,000 apps that have unbundled the various functions that Office performs.
  3. Tablet software has been commoditized. Who wants to pay for Office when there’s plenty of cheaper, “good enough” alternatives available?
  4. The wildly successful adoption of the iPad strongly suggests that iPad users don’t need Office.
  5. iPad is doing well in the Enterprise without Office.
  6. Tablets are all about simplicity. Office is all about complexity. How’s that gonna work?
  7. A touch input interface is a whole different animal than a mouse input interface. John Gruber says that he’s heard that Office for iPad is the real deal. I’ll remain skeptical until I see it. Why? Because I believe that the better the touch interface will be, the less Office-like the product will be and the more Office-like the product will be, the less touch enabled it will be. We’ll see soon enough.
  8. The real threats come from use cases where one doesn’t need to be using Office at all.

It’s far too late. The Windows for iPad ship has sailed.

“If only.” They must be the two saddest words in the world. ~ Mercedes Lackey

Plan F: The Future

Life is like an onion; you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep. ~ Carl Sandburg

Even if Office for iPad utterly fails, it is still a pivotal event for Microsoft.

There is always a comforting thought in time of trouble when it is not our trouble ~ Marquis

The fact that Microsoft is moving Office to the iPad, combined with the fact Microsoft is moving Office to the iPad even before it brings out a touch-optimized version of Office for the Surface, is a very strong signal that things are changing at Microsoft.

By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man’s, I mean. ~ Mark Twain

It’s too soon to know in which direction Microsoft is headed, but it’s not too soon to know they are changing direction.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. ~ George Bernard Shaw

And since Microsoft was definitely headed in the wrong direction before, this change gives one hope.

The future will be better tomorrow. ~ Dan Quayle