Microsoft has been pretty noncommittal when it comes to creating business tools for the iPhone and iPad. The company has dipped its toes in the iOS pool with consumer-oriented release of My Xbox Live and an iOS port of its Kinectimals virtual pet game. That’s in addition to an app that lets users access files stored in Microsoft’s cloud-based SkyDrive storage and a version of OneNote.
Although we still haven’t seen any firms signs of Office coming to the iPad beyond the handful of reports last fall, Microsoft is taking the iPad and iPhone seriously enough to include mobile apps for the devices for its Dynamics CRM 2012 suite as noted by ZDNet and 9 to 5 Mac.
Microsoft isn’t the only major CRM company supporting iOS, of course. Salesforce.com and SAP joined the iOS party quite some time ago as have several other titles – some with a broad reach in the market while others are more iOS and/Apple-specific like the excellent DayLite by MarketCircle.
One particularly interesting tidbit about the news, which came in the form of a preview guide for the suite, is that while Android is supported as a smartphone platform (as is BlackBerry and Windows Phone) it is not explicitly listed as as supported for tablet use. The guide break mobile devices out by form factor (smartphone/tablet) and lists Android for smartphone devices running Froyo or higher but not for tablets. The iPad and iPad 2 are the only tablet platforms listed.
More importantly, the move illustrates that Microsoft may be recognizing that it can’t continually put off develop key business solutions for iOS and Android in favor of its own platforms.
That could bode well for Office and it might even be a reaction to the fact that there are already multiple Office-like suites available for iOS including Quickoffice, Documents to Go, Office2, and Apple’s iWork apps. The caliber of these tools along with their integration with cloud services actually makes it questionable whether a Microsoft-developed solution is really needed for the iPad (and, to a lesser degree, the iPhone). Microsoft may be feeling that it can’t wait and expect to a complete and instant home run for some key solutions on Windows 8 tablets.
In any case, it certainly illustrates that even Microsoft is being forced to acknowledge the success of the iPad as a business tool.