How much is Microsoft passing up by not releasing a version of Office for Apple iOS?
Forbes reported that according to Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt, Redmond is letting an estimated $2.5 billion slip through its fingers by not releasing its productivity software suite for Apple's iPad. Holt estimates that if released on the iPad, Office would attain the 30 percent attach rate that the software enjoys on the Mac platform.
With a user base of 200 million iPads and at an average sales price of $60, Microsoft stands to generate roughly $2.52 billion in revenue a year from Office on iOS, by Holt's reasoning. That's after Apple takes its 30 percent cut for giving the software some virtual shelf space in the iTunes App Store.
"Office on iPad could be a several-billion-dollar opportunity," wrote Holt in a research note. It's an opportunity the company may have trouble passing up if sales of Windows tablets don't take off.
"While MSFT has resisted offering a full version of Office for the iOS, the company may ultimately decide there is more upside with Office on iPads, particularly if Win tablets fall short of expectations," predicted Holt.
In one of the company's first big profile launches of the year, Microsoft released its Windows 8 (non-RT) tablet, the Surface Pro, on Saturday, Feb. 9. Although currently sold out at many locations, particularly the in-demand 128GB model, Microsoft has yet to release official sales figures.
Meanwhile, buzz surrounding the rumored existence of an Office for iPad app has cooled in recent months.
In October, Microsoft product manager Petr Bobek was quoted as saying that native Office apps for both iOS and Google's Android mobile operating system would show up by early 2013. A month later, The Verge published screenshots of Office running on iOS and Android.
"On first launch, a Microsoft account will provide access to the basic viewing functionality in the apps. Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents will all be supported, and edit functionality can be enabled with an Office 365 subscription," reported the tech site.
In December, the release of Office for iOS seemed imminent when eagle-eyed visitors spotted mentions of Office Mobile for iPhone, Excel for iPad and PowerPoint for iPad on Microsoft's French support site.
Last month, The Verge published screenshots of Office software running on iOS and Android. According to the report, "On first launch, a Microsoft account will provide access to the basic viewing functionality in the apps. Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents will all be supported, and edit functionality can be enabled with an Office 365 subscription."
Don't believe everything you read online, said Microsoft. A spokesperson told eWEEK in December that "the information on the sites was incorrect. The spokesperson added that "We do not have any products by these names" and "we do not comment on rumors or speculation."
If the company is hoping for its free Office Web apps to fill the void, Holt hints that it won't be enough. Noting that Office 365 "is currently not available for use on iOS or Android-based devices" Holt wrote, "In our recent survey work, over 60 percent of respondents suggested Office was the most important feature to consider for a tablet and there is clearly demand for Office on the iPad."