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BLOG: Microsoft's fatal attraction to mobile hardware

Steven Max Patterson | Sept. 4, 2013
Why the Nokia acquisition is the wrong move for Microsoft, and how it should approach mobile.

With proof, Microsoft could up-sell the enterprise. This is the Dropbox approach. After enterprises see their employees reach a critical mass of file sharing and downloading, it will be the IT departments' responsibility to offer a more robust and secure solution. Microsoft could easily step in to upsell to a premium version of Office 365 that works with Active Directory, Exchange and SharePoint, and has more features.

Despite the enormous Microsoft Office user base, installs of the free Office 365 Android app are only in the 100,000 - 500,000 range because a paid Office 365 license is a prerequisite. The consumer alternative is free Google Apps for Android and iOS.

By putting up a mobile Office paywall, Microsoft would narrows its appeal to the broader market of Android and iOS devices that will increasingly be used to cloud access to personal and business data. The consequence - a mismatch of interest in Microsoft Office compared to Microsoft Office365. Google Trends shows declining search interest in Office and weak search interest in Office 365. Interest in Office 365 should be accelerating given the enormous legacy repository of Office documents and prolific use of Exchange email.

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While reaching mobile users with a prosumer Office strategy, the experienced Microsoft developer relations team needs the tools and directive to take an open approach to winning Android and iOS developers to build apps that work with Microsoft's cloud and server solutions.

To promote its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) Azure, Microsoft Business Division (MBD) supported the open framework node.js before its proprietary .net, and implemented github source code repository support that has been broadly adopted by iOS and Android software developers. MBD is doing the right things to make Azure attractive to mobile developers; it just has to do it harder and faster.

Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server, Windows Azure, SharePoint and other big Microsoft cloud and server products need to deliver best-in-class secure software developer kits (SDKs) for Android and iOS. Similar to how Facebook put mobile first without building a phone, Microsoft needs to turn on a dime and make it easier for mobile developers to build apps for its cloud and server solutions.

Microsoft is not going to succeed in mobile by putting its logo in everyone's hands. It does, however, have a big opportunity to do so by putting its logo on everyone's apps.


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