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Tom Gibbons, Microsoft VP, is leading Microsoft's charge to support the iPhone, heading a team of engineers who are working to develop third-party apps for the iPhone.  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft may look to launch an Office suite on iPhone

Microsoft and Apple may be rivals, but that doesn't stop Microsoft from being very excited about developing possible applications for the iPhone, according to recent reports.  

Soon after the release of Apple's third party software developer kit (SDK) for the iPhone, Microsoft set an entire team of engineers to work analyzing it.  Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group, states, "It’s really important for us to understand what we can bring to the iPhone.  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."

The move is not an entirely new one either.  Microsoft has long maintained a group of engineers tasked with porting Microsoft software to Apple's operating systems.  Microsoft's Mac Business Unit is based in Mountain View, Calif., cozily close to Apple's headquarters, which is just miles away.  The Mac Business Unit has been extremely successful in marketing the Microsoft Office Suite to Mac users.  Though Microsoft refuses to release figures on the unit, one of its most lucrative, Fortune magazine estimates that it did around $350M USD in business last year, and may have made as much as $200M USD in profit.

Microsoft has taken a strange sense of pride in being the best Apple developer other than Apple.  Microsoft's extensive experience with OS X and its inside knowledge of the Microsoft Exchange protocols the iPhone is adopting for business email means that Microsoft should be primed to deliver some powerful iPhone applications.

Gibbons states, "We do have experience with that environment, and that gives us confidence to be able to do something.  The key question is, what is the value that we need to bring? We’re still getting comfortable with the SDK, right? It’s just come out. So we had a guess as to what feasibility would be like, now we’ll really get our head wrapped around that."

Microsoft's voice recognition unit TellMe, a recent acquisition, is also eyeing the iPhone.  TellMe's primary focus is in developing for the Windows Mobile operating system.  While the situation may be slightly ironic, it is pure business and general manager Mike McCue says that as long as the iPhone SDK supports voice recording and location based technology, TellMe will be all over it.  McCue states, "If the SDK supports these things we’re absolutely going to get a version out there as soon as we can, get TellMe out there on the iPhone."

In June, Apple will release an update which will allow third-party SDK-based software.  Until then Microsoft will be busy coding, coming up with new products for the iPhone.  Business certainly makes strange bedfellows.

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RE: Hybrid?
By OrSin on 3/26/2008 3:51:17 PM , Rating: 0
I thought it was funny, not sure why you as rated down.
Also why is MS and apple rivals. They both make OS, but true MS dont care one bit hope about apple. Even if appy get sells directly from MS it so little it will never matter. And with Apple around monopoly is easy to hide. Add in teh fac tthe apple users still buy Office, and thats MS real cash cow not the OS, its all gravy for MS.

RE: Hybrid?
By killerroach on 3/26/2008 4:01:09 PM , Rating: 2
Keep in mind that, outside of Apple, Microsoft has the largest Mac development unit of any company, believe it or not. If there's a profit to be made in a field, it's the prerogative of a good capitalist firm to make it :)

RE: Hybrid?
By SanLC504 on 3/26/2008 4:28:22 PM , Rating: 2
The most likely reason for that is because Microsoft has the largest software development unit of any company, and because of how widespread and universally accepted Microsoft's formats are, they know people will clamor for a way to utilize those formats (i.e. doc, xls, pps).

Does Mac have its own word processing and worksheet software? Sure it does. But, if you're a student, does your teacher also have that same suite? Doubtful, and so to Microsoft formats we go!

RE: Hybrid?
By Oregonian2 on 3/26/2008 5:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft has made a lot of money off of Apple over the years, as well as having saved Apple from extinction a couple times. When the Mac first came out it was wonderful but there was absolutely nothing to buy it for. No significant apps whatsoever, that is, until Microsoft provided a suite for it. Something that became a Mac top seller for a long time. iPods and Zunes are about the only thing they compete in. They both make OS's but Apple only as part of their main business of selling computers, something that Microsoft doesn't do (other than perhaps the Xbox's). Windows and OS-X really aren't direct competitors even if one theoretically can run both on a x86 based Mac.

As to Microsoft having the largest software unit, I'm not entirely sure. IBM has a pretty big one. Just doesn't generally run primarily on PC's.

RE: Hybrid?
By P4blo on 3/27/2008 12:35:56 PM , Rating: 2
Mac numbers are so insignificant compared to PC's I doubt most companies would be interested in all the investment needed to tap a 5% market share.

No I see it differently. Sure they make a few bucks but I think Microsoft are in the Mac market to ensure their products (such as office) remain the primary office software choice for mac users as well as PC. Also... if Microsoft becomes a big player in Mac software they're effectively guaranteeing Macs will never become a threat to the PC. Why? because if it runs the same things as PC's, why not just buy a PC and save some do$h!?

I admit to not being much of a Mac luver but I do think all they have over modern PC's is a bit of style and a wopping price tag. Let the braindead by them for their looks and that wonderful single mouse button...

Anyway, for MS it's a win/win scenario.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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