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Is Microsoft Betting on the Longevity of iPads?

It’s anticipated next week that Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella will announce Office for iPads. As part of the company’s Cloud and Mobile Strategy, it is expected that there will be full support for MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Office 365 users. The question is, what does this imply about Microsoft’s predictions for the iPad?

Based on the size of the investment required to build an advanced native application of this magnitude, I would say Microsoft is banking on iPads remaining the device of choice for quite some time. When you look at the facts, Microsoft tablets continue to see low adoption rates among consumer products. Additionally, Microsoft has been giving surface tablets away to some enterprises. At Maestro, we are equal “app”ortunity app developers. But this all leads me to believe that Apple has security in the tablet market, at least for a little while.

Announcements at the upcoming Build 2014 conference are expected to set the pace for the future direction of Microsoft’s Windows Operating Systems. Come April, more info will be provided about Windows 8.1 and Nadella has made it pretty clear that it will be a “mobile first, cloud first strategy”. With what is sizing up to be a pretty hefty investment in infiltrating the corporate environment, I anticipate Windows will continue to push for more mobile adoption and greater support. I just wonder whether or not they will be successful.

While Microsoft is making a push, the evidence still tips in favor of Apple. In January, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said 98% of Fortune 500 companies were using iPads. It’s stats like this that make Microsoft’s decision to deploy office on iPads so understandable. I think they see this is a long-term war and they don’t want to lose cloud users to their new biggest competitor: Google. With the fight for the cloud and mobile space comes some fierce competition, but I wouldn’t count anyone out just yet.

So what does this mean to corporate mobile strategy teams? I would say be cautious on the enticing offers Microsoft is making to buy into your team. Until Windows has the same arsenal of apps for its products, which has been deemed “Modern Apps”, that Apple’s store provides for iOS apps, there is a risk of your team not using the tablets to their potential or even worse not using Modern apps at all. Another key indicator to watch for is the adoption of Windows phones. When a good number of your employees are using a Windows phone instead of an iPhone or hardware supporting Android, it might be time to start reconsidering. What it all boils down to – just as it always does – is being careful about doing what’s best for your company. Don’t just jump at a great offer or rush to adopt the latest technology. Take time to think about your company, your people and the technology that will set them both up for success.

Nate Norman

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