The new model for Office support on the iPad, iPhone, or Android is being “leaked” in images across the web. Since then, Microsoft has gone into “no-comment” mode on the topic, but has not flatly denied the reports in the original Verge article.
Office’s iOS and Android apps will be tied directly to an Office 365 subscription. Anyone familiar with Apple’s app tax would have been wise to guess this from day one, as Microsoft is unlikely to want to pay it’s largest rival 30% of revenues on all Office sales on the iOS system (i.e. when cows fly). Microsoft is hoping to skirt the fee entirely by provided the applications for free, but with locked down view only functions. When users tie that Office app to a Office 365 license however, the functionality will change to the full version of Office Mobile.
Microsoft is heading in the subscription model more broadly speaking as well. Enterprise and Mid-size firms are rapidly shifting away from the convoluted volume licensing process and onto Microsoft’s hosted platforms (This ranges from Dynamics CRM Online, to Office 365, to Windows Intune). This is demonstrated no better than by Toyota’s recent shift of 200,000 employees onto the Office 365 Platform.
Simultaneously Microsoft is also shifting their consumer base the same direction, with the recent announcement of the release of Office 365 Home and Small Business SKUs which will license up to 5 family members for $99 a year ($8.33/month) and/or $150 a year respectively
One question that immediately comes to mind is whether @ $8.33/month if it will even drive significant demand to begin with for anything other than viewing functionality. While professionals and businesses can certainly see the benefit of being able to fix an error on the fly before a presentation, I struggle to imagine the average home user desiring to make their iPhone a productivity device. My guess is most will be happy with view only functionality, and those that aren’t are likely to already own Office for other reasons.
The take away for these users should then be not to purchase the “out of the box” version of Office 2013 (which looks to be more expensive than prior versions, less flexible, and includes less features than their new licensing model).