Microsoft has been on a buying spree over the past few months and is aggressively going after top-performing apps in the productivity segment on all platforms. Everything from an email app to a calendar and of course the most recent purchase, a to-do list service, are now in Microsoft's portfolio. All of these apps run on Android and iOS (with some available on Windows as well), but when you step back and understand what Microsoft is trying to do, it becomes clear that the company has obtained a powerful stack of apps to control its own destiny on competing platforms.
It's no secret that Microsoft has fallen behind in the mobile space; Android and iOS command the overwhelming majority of the market, and while Windows is in third place, it's so far behind that it's not taken seriously by developers. We know this because some big-name apps like Snapchat have ignored Windows, while other key players that are already on the platform, such as Instagram, rarely update their apps, if at all.
But for Microsoft, there is an even bigger risk: the enterprise.
Microsoft makes software for the consumer - but more importantly, it makes software for the enterprise, and this is where they haul in a significant portion of their revenue. When the enterprise wants to use smartphones, even though Microsoft has a platform, they are choosing iOS or Android. It's because of this business reality that we have seen the company release Office on these devices, but that is only the start of its effort to win back the enterprise (and consumer) on these devices.
With Android, Microsoft has already planted its seed by having some of the largest vendors pre-load its software but with iOS, Apple is in complete control which, for Microsoft, is an issue. So what do you do when your competitor owns the OS?
Microsoft has built a portfolio of killer apps that are glued together by Cortana and OneDrive You build a portfolio of killer apps that are glued together by OneDrive and Cortana to control the experience on these devices.
When you have an iOS or Android device and you are looking to grab the best email app, searching Google/Bing returns the Outlook app, which the Redmond-based company acquired from Acompli; search for a top-rated to-do list, that's Wunderlist; and a calendar app? Yep, it's Sunrise.
Simply having great apps on multiple platforms is one thing, but Microsoft has two pieces of framework that are going to make having all of these apps (in addition to Office apps) essential on your device.
Microsoft has announced that Cortana will be coming to iOS and Android in the near future and you can bet that Microsoft is going to weave these services into the portfolio of apps that it has acquired. Imagine pulling up Cortana on iOS and having it set a reminder; it could interlink with Wunderlist to create the ultimate task list. Or what if you need Cortana to send an email for you? If you have Outlook installed, then she'll be able to.
There will be significant benefit to having all the apps on your device, not just one or two And it doesn't matter that Cortana is running on iOS, Microsoft can use your Microsoft Account on the backend to sync all of these services without Apple's permission to give you a unique experience if you download all of the company's apps. Simply put, because Microsoft has bought the best apps across the board for productivity, it offers the best corporate (and consumer) experiences through its suite of services.
The same goes for Android as well; with all of these apps, it doesn't matter what Google does, Microsoft has created a work-around using its own tools and apps to give a better and more integrated experience than what is pre-installed by the vendor.
The company is also working on its own new apps as well, which - if they see the light of day - will further enhance their portfolio too. OneClip, another app for all major platforms, is a universal clipboard across all operating systems to make it easier to move content from phone to PC. And then there is Office Now, a personal executive assistant to help you keep your day aligned which would be enhanced greatly if it could pull in Wunderlist content as well.
What Microsoft is doing is more than buying up stand-alone apps - it's taking the best of the iOS and Android apps that fit its agenda and weaving them into its existing services to control the experience the best way it can, even when it doesn't own the OS. With all of these new apps, once the integration points are complete with its existing services, there will be a significant benefit to having all of the apps on your device, not just one or two.
And when Microsoft owns the productivity suite on your phone, regardless of the vendor, the company won't need Windows 10 Mobile to be a huge player as they will have already accomplished their goal of owning the best productivity experience on every device in the world.