Outgoing Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer strongly hinted to investors and analysts during an annual meeting in Bellevue, WA that Microsoft is working on developing Office for both the iPad and Android tablets.While he spent hours on other facets of Microsoft’s business, including it’s acquisition of Nokia and the shift to providing “services and devices,” many of his insinuations regarding MS Office proved welcome after remaining quiet on this potential revenue stream for too long.
Ballmer’s last address as CEO of Microsoft
Given that it was Ballmer’s last time addressing the group as CEO, it was an emotion-filled speech that also included swipes at Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) for being a monopoly as well as a 30-minute power outage. For those who feel that Ballmer, having announced his retirement from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) last month, is a lame-duck CEO, should take some comfort in the fact that he continues to address the future. Something quite wise for a man who will step down as CEO owning 4 percent of the company.
Without specifically mentioning MS Office for windows, most in attendance and those watching the webcast had no trouble understanding what he was talking about when he said that “We don’t have our heads in the sand,” and that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is “working on everything that you think we should be working on.”
MS Office for iPad could increase revenue
Analysts have long accused Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) of “leaving money on the table” when it comes to MS Office for third-party devices. Some analysts believe that MS Office for the iPad alone could account for an increase in revenue of up to $25 billion.
Ballmer continued by saying that Windows is the preferred platform for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) applications and that remains supremely important, but executives have less “religion” than people think and keep their “eyes wide open” with regards to the opportunities for generating additional revenue by porting products like Office to other platforms.
In a question-and-answer session after his prepared remarks, he once again took up this theme, saying “our devices carry our services, and our services will be available on a number of people’s devices.”
Ballmer points hurdles for Microsoft to overcome
In defense of his remarks, he pointed out that SkyDrive, Skype, and OneNote are already available in both iOS and Android versions, but suggested that Apple Inc. (NADSAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s policies regarding their respective app stores remain a hurdle that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) must overcome.
Skype, for example, is as “cross platform as could be, and we probably should use it to capture more functionality,” but Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) frowns on allowing suites on its app store, he said.
“They know they have to avoid [competitors] getting too much traction with their services on their devices, but we’re working away on it and it’s very, very important to us,” Ballmer said.“Devices come with services, services have to find their way onto non-Microsoft devices and we certainly have to support that without religious bias, if you will,” he added.
It’s understandable that Microsoft has been hesitant to release MS Office to other tablets, given that it is one of the few selling points of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Surface tablets. However, given the sales of Surface this doesn’t appear to be enough of a selling point for consumers.