As of November 6th Microsoft began letting users download their Office apps for iOS and Android Devices with full functionality for free. Office on mobile has happened rather fast, because until mid-2013, you couldn’t even get Office on your mobile devices, and now it’s free. If you happen to have either an Apple or Android device, you should definitely go download these apps and add them to your mobile toolbox.
Why Did Microsoft Make Office Free?
How is it possible for Microsoft to give away a product that was responsible for a third of their 2013 revenue (2013 Revenue: 77.85 Million)? Ultimately, there were a few reasons that pushed them into their decision, and I’ll touch on the big ones.
Mobile Device Growth
It’s no secret that both consumers and businesses are incorporating mobile devices into their lives more and more every day. Something that you may have overlooked however is that if you’re looking for an application to view, edit, or create documents, spreadsheets, or presentations on your mobile device you’re probably not using Microsoft Office. Before this recent change, purchasing these apps for your mobile device would have cost you $99 a year on a Microsoft 365 subscription. Not just speaking from personal preference but also from statistics, consumers and businesses alike were looking for free alternatives (and if you’re anything like me, I always look for the free versions first and decide if the limitations from the free version can justify the cost of the paid version).
So if you were like me and you didn’t want to pay for Microsoft Office you had some amazing free options to choose from on whichever device you purchased. On the Apple’s iOS, you had free access to the iWork Suite, which may not be as familiar as Office, but the differences were definitely not worth justifying a $100/ year subscription. On the other hand, if you have an Android device, you get access to Google’s productivity apps (Google Drive, Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentations and more) which are completely free and have been gaining traction with both consumers and businesses alike (Google Drive is also available for the iOS). Outside of these two suites, you also have third party apps that allow you to view, edit and create the same types of documents that Office does as well, which were also free.
This makes sense; Microsoft did not have their industry flagship software on enough mobile devices. In order to maintain their stronghold with Office, they simply had to continue to get users to choose their product over their competitor’s. Which for many, such as myself, who are the most familiar with Office becomes a no brainer when it’s a free program.
Mobile vs. Desktop Office
The reason they can afford to do this is that frankly, tablets and mobile devices are not great replacements for a work laptop or desktop yet. Users, especially business users, thrive in a non-touch-screen environment; they are looking for a way to have the full functionality of a keyboard and mouse to create their documents. For this feature, they will still have to pay, and because of this, Microsoft still gets to cash in on the 87% of Office users who happen to fall in the business category. The fact of the matter is Microsoft Office is the standard in the business world, and if you only have one piece of software, more than likely it’s Office. For the remaining users, as I said, nothing quite replaces the laptop or desktop if you are looking to get actual work done. Therefore, for the time being it makes perfect sense for Microsoft to get more mobile users on their software, rather than them becoming more familiar with a competitor’s product and choosing to use a different suite in their business’.