Saturday, August 31, 2013

Microsoft Office 365 for iPhone: free iOS app carries a cost

Not only is MS Office 365 available in the App Store, it’s a free download for iPhone users. But if that sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is for all but existing Office 365 subscribers. Those who are already paying Microsoft monthly or annually for a subscription to the Office suite which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint can count their iPhone as one of their five allotted devices. But everyone else is downloading an Office Mobile app at no charge which literally doesn’t do anything unless you pay money after you’ve installed it. Call it a case of Microsoft taking Apple’s in-app purchases to the extreme.

How iPhone users end up reacting to Microsoft Office is tough to predict. Back in 2007 when the iPhone debuted or in 2008 when the App Store arrived, MS Office would have been a big catch. All these years later, iPhone users have gotten used to life after Word. Apple offers its own Pages word processor, while various third parties offer free MS Office clones for the iPhone as well. Microsoft may be left kicking itself over all the lost iPhone revenue over the years, as it kept Office out of the App Store either in the hopes of keeping the iPhone from taking off or because it didn’t want to bother recoding its Office suite.

But Microsoft appears to be trying to make up for lost revenue after the fact by pricing Office for iPhone in a way that’ll cost users a hundred dollars a year if they’re not already Office 365 subscribers. That’s more than some iPhone users paid their carrier for their device to begin with.

Phil covers tech for Stabley Times.

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