Microsoft looks to benefit on multiple fronts from its recent announcements of free Office apps for iOS and Android mobile consumers. But one in particular looks especially promising. Developers will be much more likely to implement its Office 365 APIs and SDKs when consumers, recently hooked on free versions of Word, Excel, and more, with limited functionality, present a burning need for these tools.
In an earlier post to this blog, titled Don’t forget the cyclical nature of trends in Software development, this writer voiced his support for the notion of an “API Goldrush”, which Brian Proffitt articulated in an article published on the ReadWrite back on April 24, 2013. Proffitt’s points look to be highly accurate given Microsoft’s recent announcement, Developers now have new Office 365 APIs, iOS and Android SDKs, app launcher.
Flipping an old attempt to encourage developer interest into a winner by publishing a set of APIs and SDKs may look like a correct strategy for Microsoft to pursue, at least on paper, but if consumers haven’t articulated a significant need for the tools developers can bolt onto their mobile apps with these extensions, then the end result will, unfortunately, be a comparable low level of interest. In other words, developers will have little incentive to implement APIs and SDKs for Office 365 without consumer demand.
The announcements of free, albeit limited versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office apps looks perfectly designed to prime the need pump. At the same time, Microsoft’s recent announcements of partnerships with DropBox, and a few months back, Salesforce.com, which provide these ISVs with a path into the Office 365 ecosystem, look just the same; in other words, a method of driving developers to build hooks to Office 365 into their mobile apps.
As C|Net published on November 7, Microsoft Word mobile app shoots to top of Apple’s charts. So Microsoft seems to be on targed, at least for now. This is no small achievement, and precisely the type of interest Microsoft needs to push developers in its direction.
Ira Michael Blonder
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