For the past week or so, Microsoft bods have been poking around in the recently launched iPhone Software Development Kit to see what they can find. They have two compelling reasons to do so: iPhone is an obvious competitor to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile technologies, and Microsoft also shares software interests with Apple – Mac Office being one example.
So there are good odds that Microsoft will be looking to implement some Mac Office software on the iPhone. Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Specialized Devices and Applications Group, confirmed this in a recent interview: “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.”
And while Adobe is rushing to implement Flash on the iPhone, there’s a good chance Microsoft may want to do the same with its competing Silverlight product too.
However, Microsoft does face a bit of a problem when it comes to deciding whether to push its software technologies on the iPhone. To farm out everything for both Windows Mobile and iPhone handsets leaves the former with little in the way of unique selling points, but then some of the technology might benefit more from keeping availability as broad as possible.
Then there’s the question of whether to charge for the software once it has been made. The popularity of the iPhone makes it a potentially decent earner for the Redmond Giant, but then Apple is itself going to take a 30% slice of whatever’s made.
Luckily, Microsoft doesn’t have to worry about all that quite yet as it is still getting its engineers are still getting their heads around the system. But it will be very interesting to see what Microsoft can do and how it decides to play things further down the line.