All aboard, Microsoft is jumping on the freemium bandwagon. In the past their product, Office 365,was subscription-only if you wanted to do anything other than read your documents on your mobile device.
Now the updated free Microsoft app will allow you to change, or write new Office documents on your iPhone or iPad. The version for Android tablets will be available early next year.
It’s adopting a strategy companies like LinkedIn have been using for ages – giving stuff away for free to get more users, then charging a premium for extras.
“There’s a recognition that like, better to get everyone in the tent and then later you can figure out how to make money off of them,” says Jeff Howe, head of the Media Innovation Program at Northeastern University.
If you want to get fancy – with say, advanced editing – then you have to pay.
So why is Microsoft shifting their strategy?
“Well, you know, the world has changed,” says Michael Atalla, director of product management at Microsoft. “People expect to be able to use their favorite apps, on their favorite device, wherever they are. And we’re enabling that.”
Another big reason for this enabling is competition from Google Docs and other free software for document writing. Microsoft has to find a way to keep Office users using their product.
“This will help Microsoft maintain its customer relationships and reduce the likelihood that existing customers will try to move to Google Docs,” says Frank Gillett, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.
At least that what Microsoft hopes. The impact of their decision is still to be determined.
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