Microsoft [MSFT] is doomed in its attempt to slow Apple [AAPL] iPad sales by denying iOS users a mobile version of Office as the iPad maker controls the most searched for app on the Windows 8 store -- iTunes. Surely there's a deal in that?
[ABOVE: Blast from the past: Steve Jobs announces iTunes on Windows.]
Microsoft puts out the mat
Microsoft has been asking Apple if it would be willing to make an app for iTunes on Windows tablets, but Apple has (perhaps inevitably) remained unmoved.
"You shouldn't expect an iTunes app on Windows 8 any time soon," Microsoft CFO, Tami Reller, told CNNMoney. "iTunes is in high demand. The welcome mat has been laid out. It's not for lack of trying."
iTunes certainly is in high demand among Microsoft Surface users who've made it the most searched-for item on the Windows 8 app store.
This isn't to say Windows users are locked out, they certainly are not: you can use the iTunes on a PC -- though only as a window in desktop mode, which is far from ideal.
Windows tablets are excommunicated. Even Windows 8 Pro tablets don't deliver a good user experience using Apple's non-touch PC application: "Could you use the current version of iTunes on a touchscreen and be happy with it?" asks iMore's Richard Devine.
In other words, just because hell froze over for the Windows v. Apple divide when it comes to iTunes on PCs doesn't mean it will do so in the mobile space.
[ABOVE: No iTunes for Surface leaves Win 8 user's flat.]
Is there a deal to be made?
Microsoft may be missing a trick. As CEO Steve Ballmer heads toward what may turn out to be his final year at the helm of the ailing company, it continues to deprive mobile users of Office on non-Microsoft platforms.
Given that (in mobile at least) Microsoft users want iTunes while Apple's congregation wants Office, surely there's a deal that could be reached?
Such a deal could make perfect sense given Microsoft's claims that pretty much every popular iOS app will be available on the Windows 8 app store by year's end.
Apple is, after all, moving away from an a la carte vision to a service-driven future for iTunes, assuming it can reach the deals it needs with music labels and (later) movie and TV studios.
This service-driven vision will permeate all of Apple's products and services as time rolls on. Perhaps it will become less important to twin products with services as Apple products will always offer the best available experience, at least in terms of the union of software and hardware.
What's more important will become the maintenance of a positive connection with users who may choose to migrate between platforms. Ultimately users will stick to the platform that delivers the best experience, and Apple's all about providing such an experience, just look at the user satisfaction levels, customer support happiness, or customer loyalty figures to evidence this.
Will Apple ship an iTunes app for Windows tablets? Probably not: I can't logically see its executives choosing to deploy an iTunes app for a competing mobile platform.
The enemy of my enemy...
However, in the event Apple wanted to accelerate Microsoft in bringing a version of Office across to iOS, then it seems iTunes could be a trading card to make it happen. Both benefit.
Microsoft benefits by increasing its bid for consumer customers; Apple gains by increasing the offering to enterprise customers, who are already migrating to its products as the BYOD trend becomes standard in the enterprise.
Microsoft also benefits by at least ensuring its existing BYOD-switching enterprise customers buy Office for iOS. It is already losing loyalty in those markets, and will need to work within the principles of an open competitive market in order to win them back again.
Maybe executives from Apple and Microsoft should sit down and talk this through once more. The biggest loser if they reach a deal would be mutual enemy, Google, whose bid for enterprise on mobile devices is pretty much confined to the only officially "secure" Android version out there, Samsung Knox.
Apple, Google and Microsoft all have reason to oppose the Korean company: Apple for too many reasons to list, Microsoft because Samsung is the poster child for Android, and Google because its Android licensee will soon be powerful enough to dictate the future direction of the OS.
This packed parcel of motivations suggest that when it comes to iTunes on Windows tablets (and Office on iOS) hell could, and perhaps, should, freeze over all over again. Though in reality? Well, it's unlikely to happen.
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