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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Microsoft Partners With Android Makers in Its Latest Mobile Push

SEATTLE — Microsoft is serious about making its most lucrative business, Office, relevant to mobile users. What is less clear is how much money it will be able to make from them.
On Monday, the company announced partnerships with nearly a dozen makers of tablets based on Android, Google’s mobile operating system. The most prominent of those deals is with Samsung, the largest maker of Android devices, which plans to ship Office, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, on some of its tablets during the first half of this year. Just recently, Microsoft cut a similar deal to load Office onto Samsung’s new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge phones.
Samsung Galaxy tablets on display at a technology fair in Berlin last year. Samsung plans to ship Office on some of its tablets during the first half of this year.Credit Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
Microsoft said Dell would also put Office on its Android tablets. Nine other companies, mostly regional hardware makers in other countries, will do the same.
The deals are yet another illustration of how Microsoft has changed its philosophy about mobile. The old Microsoft fought the mobile technology duopoly of Android and Apple’s iOS by withholding its Office applications from them. The new Microsoft is doing everything it can to get Office into the hands of people with those devices.
“It goes to show we are truly reinventing ourselves,” Peggy Johnson, executive vice president for business development at Microsoft, said in an interview.
Microsoft’s top priority at the moment is clearly more use, not sales. The company is letting mobile users run Office on their phones and tablets free, in the hopes of eventually luring them to buy premium features available through an Office subscription service. Ms. Johnson said there had been 80 million downloads of Office on iOS, which powers iPhones and iPads.
This so-called freemium approach to making money is the standard for countless app start-ups today. It is, however, a bit riskier for a company like Microsoft with a colossal, mature software franchise like Office, one that brings in billions of dollars in revenue a year.
Microsoft does not seem worried that giving away a functional version of Office for mobile will kill its business. And it certainly does not seem to be slowing the pace of its efforts to make Office a mainstay for Android and iOS users.
“We’re comfortable with the model as it stands,” Ms. Johnson said.

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