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Will Microsoft Office Boost Apple iPad Sales?


Reports are circulating that Microsoft will bring its cash cow to Apple's tablet platform.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is leading up the Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) today on media reports that new CEO Satya Nadella will unveil Office for the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad at an event on March 27 in San Francisco.

So let's think about two big questions.

1. Will the availability of Office boost iPad sales?

If Office on iPad has full functionality, then it does create some additional incentive to switch from a laptop to an iPad.

The new iPad Air starts at $499 and goes up to $799 with 128 gigabytes of storage. Even budgeting for a keyboard, that stacks up pretty well against a decent notebook PC, especially since the iPad has better battery life and durability as well as access to Apple's best-in-class app ecosystem.

However, serious Office users may still prefer a full, traditional notebook PC interface with a bigger screen. The iPad may never be the right solution for them.

This news -- assuming it happens -- is a net positive for Apple.

Whether it actually moves the iPad needle is still unclear.

2. Why is Microsoft making nice with the iPad?

Remember, Office Online for Office 365 is already available for a variety of non-Microsoft devices, including the iPhone, Google (GOOG) Android phones, and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) devices, with varying capabiltiies. So Office on iPad seems inevitable.

iPads, as well as Android tablets, are seriously disrupting the traditional Windows notebook PC market, so it makes sense for Microsoft to ride the strongest horses.

And for Microsoft, it's important to protect Office because Windows has a bigger chance of being disenfranchised in an increasingly platform-agnostic world. While it may never admit as much publicly, Microsoft may be okay with the idea that Windows has peaked.

As it stands now, Office is hanging tough. Google Docs and Apple's iWork just haven't been able to inflict significant damage on the franchise.

Twitter: @MichaelComeau

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