AMITIAE - Saturday 21 September 2013

Cassandra: Deer Caught in the Headlights - Office for the iPad, Sometime Soon, Maybe, Perhaps

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

This week the new iPhones (for some reason) have beat all expectations of the analysts; iOS 7 is reported to have had an uptake of around 30% in one day; and Blackberry announced another massive round of layoffs. Like Microsoft and Nokia, Research in Motion (as it was then) decided that the toy iPhone, when it was released in 2007, was nothing to worry about. Palm, Nokia, HTC and Samsung might think different now.

This is just speculation, but it may be that some of the industry's leaders have accepted that there could be a market in iOS devices and so some, such as AutoDesk, makers of AutoCad, have been hard at work producing software that works (or synchronises to) all platforms, while Apple, who had long recognised that Windows users were a group not to be ignored, are about to release an iCloud version of its productivity suite that works in browsers - even Internet Explorer.

While iWork is available for iOS devices (and Macs), there are also many more apps that can be used for productivity. Most are for writing, some are for spreadsheets, while a small number may be used for presentations. What has been missing - some say - since the advent of the iPad is a version of Microsoft's Office for the iPad.

I must admit, I would not use this for a number of reasons, one of which is that if this were ever released, it would just be too late. Some users would want inter-device operations, and if they are happy with Office on their computers, this might work for them. Apparently, however, one of the delays was caused by Microsoft refusing to accept the terms and conditions of the iTunes App Store, especially Apple's 30% charge: "Don't you know who my founder was?

There would be an outcry if Apple were to change the rules for one company, no matter how big.

Like some of the shrinking mobile phone companies (one of which Microsoft bought recently), Redmond is only acting when the release of such an app for productivity would be almost irrelevant, in terms of lateness. Everyone is tired of waiting and has better things to do: or better apps to use.

However, Electronista reports that there is a hint from the soon-to-be-gone CEO of Microsoft that Office apps could be coming soon to iOS devices (and Android). He also told some Wall Street analysts that he noted that "the company executives have their eyes "wide open" when considering the potential benefits". Wide open as in "deers in headlights mode," as in only seeing a crash at the last moment, as in "the horror, the horror" (Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad).

With a potential market of $2.5 billion from iPad sales that Microsoft could be losing (those analysts again), Redmond is working flat out to do what must be done and is expected to have this ready by Fall 2014. Another year, for Heaven's sake; and more than 4 years since the iPad was first announced on 28 January 2010.

Since that time, the Microsoft CEO has been in denial, avoiding the issue, trying to introduce Microsoft's own version of a tablet that bombed like the others it had tried before (but this time with nearly $1 billion written off), and sitting on its laurels - the cash cows of Windows and Office - while failing to notice that even these were less desirable than before.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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