Everyone knows that the iPad will be the tablet to beat, and Microsoft is sparing no effort in trying to get its own OS out on the new breed of slates. But as much as Microsoft is going to fight tooth and nail against Apple in this particular segment, it appears that part of the software giant’s strategy involves working with the latter. After all, how else can one explain the rumour that Microsoft has its own iPad division somewhere in California?
Read on to find out more.
“The enemy of the enemy is my friend” mantra may extremely relevant in the computer industry, but it appears that there is at least one aspect of Microsoft which does not adhere to the aforementioned saying. And it is none other than the company’s business dealings with the Apple platform via its Mac Business Unit, which produces bestselling software such as Microsoft Office for Mac on the OS X operating system.
But even then, Microsoft still competes bitterly with Apple for market share in many other aspects such as portable media players, operating systems, smartphones and more recently, slate-like devices as well. To that end, Microsoft had even been linked to a possible purchase of Adobe in order to gain a more suitable position to go head-to-head against Apple.
Needless to say, the rumour that Microsoft may have its own undisclosed iPad division hidden away in its California office may come as a huge surprise. But apparently, this rumour has a certain degree of credibility: an article posted on Ubergizmo claims that iPhoneDevCamp’s founder Raven Zachery reportedly overheard a couple of Microsoft employees talking about the existence of such a division in Microsoft’s offices.
The rumour ends here though. But more importantly, Zachery later claimed that he was not able to determine whether the creation of an iPad division in Microsoft was done out of the need to acquire competitive knowledge about the product, or as a part of a broader strategy to collaborate with Apple as a developer for the iTunes store. This has led to Ubergizmo speculating about what Microsoft actually has in mind for such a division, which range from using it as a basis for a future Windows Phone 7 tablet, simple market research, apps development for the iTunes App Store and lastly, as a test for compatibility of its software under the iOS platform.
Usually, we do not add additional fuel to the fire by speculating on the speculations of others, but we could not help but feel that Ubergizmo might be on to something here. For one, there is no doubt that Microsoft has an eye on the tablet market and is keen to get its operating system out to tablet OEMs as soon as possible. And in order for the software giant to ensure that it produces an OS which is comparable to that which is being offered by both iOS and Android, Microsoft has to test it out on an actual tablet, which is where the need for market research comes in. A dedicated iPad team tasked to dissect Apple’s iPad and iOS will be key to helping Microsoft understand what consumers really want (or need) in a slate-like device, how to meet such demands. If need be, the team could also use this market knowledge to create its own implementations of certain features that would mimic or one-up that of Apple’s.
In the event a Microsoft-powered slate ends up being more of a bust than a bomb, Microsoft could still use some extra revenue obtained from app sales, which would also justify having its own iPad division. Just like how Microsoft has released Office for Mac, the software company can also follow the same strategy with iOS by developing and selling certain apps on the iTunes App Store.
And this is where Office comes to mind: Microsoft had been very successful in providing consumers with mobile versions of Office. Considering that Office is the de facto standard for productivity software which sells well even on the Mac, the option of having a mobile version of Office in the iTunes App Store might net Microsoft some decent revenue from iPad users. And if Microsoft pulls it off well enough, it might even have a possible effect of swaying people over to the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem, due to how tightly integrated the mobile version of Office is with its new smartphone OS.
Of course, these are still nothing more than rumours, and it is entirely possible that Microsoft’s rumoured iPad division may not even have to do with any of the reasons we have listed out here. That being said, it will probably still be interesting to see what the software giant has in store. But that is just us: what do you think Microsoft may be planning with the iPad division?