How Microsoft Office and Productivity Apps Compete on Mobile

Throughout 2016 Microsoft updated its Office mobile apps with a few significant features, including real-time collaborative editing options and more intuitive user interface. Looking at 7Park Data’s multi-million user panel, we found that out of all Microsoft Office apps, Excel was the most frequently installed and used app. Moreover, by the end of 2016, Excel had a higher number of monthly active users (MAUs) than Google Sheets, even though the latter had a higher number of installs. Based on our user engagement research, Excel is the only Microsoft app that is outperforming its Google counterpart (Google Sheets, in this case) on Android devices. See the chart below.

Excel’s steady growth over time suggests an opportunity for Microsoft to claim its place as a leader in office and productivity apps on mobile. The trick is to not just transfer everything one can do using Excel on a desktop to mobile, but also identify different needs and habits of users on-the-go and new opportunities they can bring. 

Mobile users are quick to trade loyalties when a newer, faster, and easier-to-use apps pop up. They also pick and choose apps from different providers, often abandoning “office suites.” For example, someone who uses Excel to create and share spreadsheets may use Evernote (instead of Microsoft’s OneNote) to write and share notes. Our panel of active users shows that as Excel’s usage grew over time, other Microsoft apps were in decline, had short-lived growth spurts around updates, or had no change in active users. Uncoupling and marketing Excel as a standalone app has served well for Microsoft in gaining new active users and competing with other apps in the category. 

Below is a chart showing how different Microsoft office and productivity apps compete for new users. Here Microsoft OneDrive, a cloud storage and file sharing app, is another winner among the company’s office and productivity apps.

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