Chicago (IL) - A comment by Microsoft's Steven Elop that suggested that a version of Microsoft Office is being developed for the iPhone has generated waves of excitement around teh Internet. While Apple's handset packs comprehensive enterprise features, including support for viewing Office documents out-of-the-box, the lack of an editing capability cripples the iPhone's usability in corporate environments. The question is: Will it ever become a reality?
Of course it will. With the arrival of the new iPhone OS 3.0 and SDK 2.0, iPhone's underlying software gets capabilities that enable the creation of sophisticated content creation applications. Some readers may remember that Microsoft hinted at a possible Office for iPhone over a year ago. Indeed, in late March 2008 Microsoft's Tom Gibbons indirectly hinted that the company is toying around with an Office for iPhone idea. "It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone," Gibbons said at the time, adding that "to the extent that Mac Office customers have functionality that they need in that environment, we’re actually in the process of trying to understand that now." Since Gibbons' comment, the company has neither officially denied nor confirmed the Office for iPhone rumors.
Microsoft has two applications in the App Store (Seadragon Mobile and TagReader) that clearly show the company isn't dismissing Apple's handset. Optimizing Office Live for iPhone makes no sense because the service doesn't support online editing by the design. Make no mistake, enabling document editing in an iPhone app is no small feat. But until there is an Office for iPhone, there are some alternatives worth considering.
Google Docs, QuickOffice & Co.
While Google Docs is optimized for the iPhone, editing support for spreadsheets but not textual documents and presentations limit its appeal. The recently released QuickOffice (QO) is a nice alternative until an official solution arrives. But they may not be needed if DataViz' Documents To Go (DTG) turns out only half good as it is advertised. This suite has been around for years, but DataViz recently confirmed that it is "coming soon" for both the iPhone and Android. According to Macity (via Google Translate), which published screenshots from a development build, DTG is a native iPhone app with full editing and rich formatting support for Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.
Microsoft has to join the bandwagon
With QO and the upcoming DTG, Microsoft may have enough reason to look at an aditional revenue stream from iPhone users. In fact, one could reasonably assume that iPhone users would be willing to pay a premium for the luxury of editing Office documents on the go using a Microsoft-made iPhone application. Microsoft remains the largest Mac developer and its Office for Mac has been traditionally selling very well due to a much higher percentage of users who purchase genuine software in the Mac community.
DATAVIZ's DOCS TO GO
A well-known mobile Office suite is coming on the iPhone "soon." It will enable full editing and rich-formatting capabilities for Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. With official Microsoft Office also in the works, iPhone will soon have a much improved chances of being accepted as a viable business tool.
Image credit: Macity.it