And some still say consumers aren’t interested in the iPad as a “real work” device. At Microsoft’s TechEd conference in Houston this week General manager of Microsoft’s Office Division Julia White announced that since its release on March 27, Microsoft has recorded 27 million downloads for the iPad versions of the popular productivity Apps. While the numbers don’t come with much detail they do offer a success story worth a little chest thumping on Microsoft’s part.
Some sites are reporting that large 27 million figure as if Office for the iPad were one App. It’s not. But it’s not surprising to see it reported that way given that Microsoft Office has been sold traditionally as a suite of Apps, as well as individual applications.
Microsoft followed Apple’s lead by choosing to release the iPad versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint as separate Apps, not as a one stop download. Apple’s iWork productivity Apps: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, are also free. The same is true of Google’s productivity Apps, Google Docs and Sheets. A version of Google Slides is scheduled for the future.
So, Ms. White’s announcement isn’t specific as to how many of those downloads are for which App. Theoretically if every user downloaded each of the three Apps that could be a total of only 9 million users giving the Apps a look see. But, that’s probably not the case even though all three Apps are available as free downloads. Regardless, there is obviously considerable interest from iPad uses interested in using the device as a mobile productivity solution.
So, while we have an impressive number of downloads, we don’t have an accurate reading on how many Office for the iPad users that translates to. One might assume that Microsoft Word has been downloaded most often, with Excel second, and Powerpoint bringing up the rear.
Microsoft announced on April 3, one week after the Apps were available, that over 12 million downloads had been recorded. Anyway you slice the numbers it is an impressive amount of downloads for a 46 day period.
The real test though will be how many of those users were Office 365 subscribers prior to the release of the Apps, and how many have chosen to become an Office 365 subscriber since downloading the Apps.
The free Apps are essentially viewers for documents created in Microsoft Office. To create documents and edit them, an Office 365 subscription is required. A Microsoft Office 365 Personal subscription costs $69.99 per year or $6.99 a month. The Home Premium edition of Office 365 subscription costs $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month. What’s the difference? The Home Premium subscription allows you to install Office applications on up to five different computers. The Personal edition allows you to install Office applications on one PC or Mac and one Tablet. All of the rest of the services and software are the same including 20GB of free OneDrive cloud storage, and 60 minutes of Skype calling per month.
OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud syncing and storage solution where your documents are stored, synced, and shared. In many ways, it is the glue that holds Office 365 together. OneDrive for Business and Sharepoint are also solutions that work with Office 365.
Students can take advantage of an even greater discount with Office 365 University that costs $79.99 for a four year subscription. Also of note, for those wishing to order a full Office 365 Home Premium subscription Amazon offers that package at a price of $72.84. That is not a digital download but a card with a code that is shipped to your address. There is also a 30 day free trial of Office 365 available.
Microsoft recently updated the Apps adding printing capability, which was a feature that was lacking in the initial release. Users without an Office 365 subscription can print documents.
The Office for the iPad Apps were long rumored with various sightings popping up around the web over the years. When they were finally released, most were pleasantly surprised with the result. The expectation was that the Apps would be similar to the Office Mobile versions that previously existed for iOS and Android with a very limited feature set. While still not as fully featured as desktop versions of Microsoft Office, the iPad versions contained enough of the Office functionality that most non-power users require. The Apps are well designed for the iPad’s touch interface and user experience and work very well with the iOS virtual keyboard or third party external keyboards.
The large number of early downloads bode well for both Microsoft and Apple. (Apple receives 30% of any Office 365 subscription purchased through in-App purchasing), as long as a substantial number of users are opting for the full capability that comes with an Office 365 subscription.
Those 27 million downloads also prove that there are at least quite a few iPad users who consider the iPad as device on which they can do “real work.” That “real work” debate has been raging since the dawn of the iPad with many seeing it only as a consumption device. While we don’t yet know the number of users represented by these impressive numbers, it might be time to put that argument to rest once and for all.