Microsoft surprised almost everyone with the release of Office Mobile for iPhone last month, none more so than Ovum principal analyst Richard Edwards.
Working as part of Ovum's ‘Consumer Impact on IT’ team, Edwards' reaction to Microsoft's plans to release Office Mobile for iPhone but not yet iPad.
“What’s even more surprising is the fact that Microsoft isn’t charging for this product, at least not if you’re a subscriber to Office 365 that is," he says.
"Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are important tools for knowledge workers, and the demand for mobile versions of these products has been getting louder and louder as smartphones and tablet computers have penetrated the workplace."
The launch of Office Mobile for iPhone comes only days after Apple announced that it would be releasing versions of its own productivity applications – known collectively as iWork – later in the year.
Subsequently these would be accessible to users of PCs and Macs using Safari, Google Chrome, and Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browsers.
“Microsoft’s announcement made no mention of an Office Mobile for Android," Edwards says.
"So Google will continue to nibble around the edges of the office productivity suite pie as it attempts to lure both businesses and consumers to its Google Apps platform.
"Microsoft Office Mobile for iPhone is more of a psychological release than an attempt to turn your iPhone into a desktop or laptop replacement, but it suggests that a version of Office for the iPad might not be too far away – this is the killer app that most business professionals are waiting for."
Edwards claims that although the release of Office Mobile for iPhone sounds significant, Microsoft is playing a cagey game.
"In some ways nothing has changed, i.e. if you want a tablet computer with all day battery life and a pukka version of Microsoft Office onboard then you’re still looking at a Windows RT device.”
Did Microsoft surprise you with the release of Office Mobile for iPhone? Tell us your thoughts below