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Wake Up Call for Excel..?

16 June 2013

Microsoft has announced its Office suite for iOS devices, with the release of the iPhone app Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers. That’s right: it may be free to download from the App Store, but an Office 365 subscription is required to actually use the application.

With no option to subscribe using in-app purchases, it appears Microsoft and Apple are still at odds over the 30% cut Apple takes on IAP on iOS. The UK’s Guardian newspaper reported in late 2012 claimed that this was the main stumbling block to the Office software appearing on iOS. The free download circumvents this minefield presently.

The official App Store listing cites: “Microsoft Office Mobile is the official Office companion optimized for your iPhone. You can access, view and edit your Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint documents from virtually anywhere”. For Word and Excel, you can both view files and create new ones. However, with PowerPoint, presently it is only possible to view existing files: creation is not yet possible.

It should be noted that this app is currently restricted to the United States store only (although there are imaginative ways to get around that hurdle, readily available with a surfing excursion). Further – watch out – just because this is an iPhone app, it is not yet compatible with the iPad.

Some industry commentators have claimed that Microsoft thinks owners of Apple’s tablet are already well catered for by the Office 365 web-apps and that the iPhone app will roll out internationally “in the coming days” rather than remain a US-only release.

Interestingly, Office is seen as one of the key selling points for Microsoft’s own Surface tablets, and its Windows Phone 8 operating system for smartphones. Launching on iOS arguably could undermine this, especially when Google Drive allows you to access and create documents, presentations and spreadsheets in Microsoft Office format too.

Another one to watch we think.

UPDATE: Microsoft has since announced that Office Mobile for iPhone will be available in 29 languages covering 135 markets. The international rollout will occur over approximately four to five days.