Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US) is preparing to release its first-ever version of its Office software for Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s mobile devices this year, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.
The software will make the word-processing program Word and spreadsheet-maker Excel available on Apple’s iPad tablets and iPhones, said the people, who requested anonymity because the product hasn’t been made public.
Adding Office software onto the iPad is key to Microsoft’s growth, particularly in the corporate market. IPads accounted for 97 percent of tablets bought by businesses in the first quarter, according to a survey of users by Good Technology Inc., a maker of wireless-device security technology. Devices that run Microsoft software and compete with the iPad won’t be available until later this year.
The software could either be preloaded on some devices or sold as an application at Apple’s App Store. There will be competition: The top-grossing app last Christmas was Google Inc.’s Quickoffice, a productivity tool for viewing and editing Office documents.
Another app, CloudOn, which lets consumers use Word, Excel and PowerPoint on tablets, has had more than 1 million downloads, and raised about $10 million in venture capital, CloudOn Inc. Chief Executive Officer Milind Gadekar said in an interview. The startup has always expected Microsoft to come out with its own version of Office for tablets and hopes to win customers with extra features, Gadekar said.
Tablet sales will climb 85 percent to 126.6 million units this year, according to IHS iSuppli Research. IPads accounted for two of every three tablets sold in the first quarter, according to data compiled by ABI Research and Bloomberg.
Microsoft has been making an effort to increase its presence on mobile devices. The Redmond, Washington-based company struck a deal with Nokia Oyj to place its Windows operating system on Nokia’s handsets and earlier this year Microsoft showed off a version of the system run on ARM processors, which are found on most mobile phones.
The company will release the next version of Office, called Office 15, in the coming months, according to Microsoft. Microsoft’s business division reported $5.81 billion in revenue (MSFT:US) last quarter, a 10 percent increase from a year ago, as demand for Office 2010 remained strong.
The Boy Genius Report said on May 23 that Microsoft is planning to release Office for Apple and Android mobile devices in November.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller and Microsoft spokesman Jevon Fark declined to comment.
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