Microsoft considering embracing Mac App Store

Tony Bradley
31 January, 2011
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Even Microsoft can’t  ignore the fact that the Mac OS X user base is growing. Combined with iPhones and iPads, and the inclusion of the app culture in the next release of Mac OS X, Apple platforms represent a large and growing market segment. Perhaps that is why Microsoft is contemplating offering up its Office productivity suite in the Mac App Store.

The Mac version of Microsoft Office has been well-received and is selling nicely. Microsoft could ignore the Mac App Store and rely on the general availability of Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac OS X. It can be downloaded via the Web as a 30-day evaluation version, so the software is already only a few clicks away for Mac users.

But, Microsoft is apparently giving serious thought to offering the Microsoft Office suite through the Mac App Store. All Things Digital’s Ina Fried quotes Microsoft’s Amanda Lefebvre stating, “It’s something we are looking at,” adding, “It’s something we haven’t ruled out,” she said. “We just have to see how that relates to our business.”

Microsoft might be reluctant to jump on the Mac App Store bandwagon. Selling Microsoft Office—or any of its components—through the Mac App Store means Microsoft would have to share the wealth with one of its biggest rivals. Apple’s 30 percent cut of app sales is not a trivial amount and could cut significantly into Microsoft’s bottom line.

The alternative might be worse for Microsoft, though. As Mac users embrace the app culture and come to rely on the Mac App Store to find the tools they need, the absence of Microsoft Office from the mix could lead many of them to seek out alternatives.

Presented a choice between accepting a 30 percent cut in revenue, or risking having that revenue not exist at all, 70 percent sounds pretty good. Plus, Microsoft should be looking beyond the revenue from Microsoft Office itself, and consider the bigger picture.

Now that the Mac OS X version of Microsoft Office contains Outlook, it is more likely that businesses using Macs will also be using Microsoft Exchange Server as the backend messaging platform. Microsoft also has a vested interest—as noted above—in ensuring that users don’t start adopting alternative platforms and simply replace Microsoft Office.

It could  be wise of Microsoft to embrace the Mac App Store. In fact,  it could even be in Microsoft’s best interests to distribute apps like Microsoft Office Mobile in all of the app stores and make sure its productivity software is ubiquitously available across iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, and any other platform that comes along.


2 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Nigel says:

    I too yearn for MS to publish apps to the App Stores. I’m looking at getting Office 2011 but cbf going to store and really want Word for iPad.

    Pages/iWork is good but I prefer office. I guess I’m just old school like that.

  2. Tim says:

    MS risks loosing the revenue altogether… ??? I’m sure they are really upset about loosing 30% revenue on 5% of the market space. More likely they said “Hey… it’s only giving away 30% of the revenue we make on the 5% of the market that use Macs… big deal… let Apple have that money. And if it doesn’t work out… we’ll just go back to selling the way we have for 20 years making tens of billions of dollars every year.. ”

    It’s not as if people are going say… Oh I need Office, but it’s not in the Mac App Store… too bad.. I really wanted to use Office… No.. they will just go and buy Office… because, rightly or wrongly… it’s what people use.

    The same way Adobe will continue to sell it’s Pro apps via non-mac-app-store channels. Because it’s not like people are not going to buy Photoshop because it’s not avail in Mac App Store..

    Personally I like the App Store so far… I liked buying Aperture for $99 rather than $239… but I guess Apple can afford to sell it’s own apps cheaper.. it’s not like they have to factor in 30% to cover the fee to Apple :-)

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