Microsoft is bringing one of its fastest growing business applications, Dynamics CRM, to the iPhone, iPad, Android phones, and the BlackBerry.It’s also creating an app for Windows Phone.
But writing native apps for all these other platforms is a startling development for a company that used to be so dominant in the workplace that it didn’t even bother to make its business apps work right on alternate Web browsers, much less third-party platforms.
(Prime example: Outlook Web Access, the company’s browser-based email client, which required Internet Explorer to use all its features.)
But that was last decade, when Windows totally dominated the workplace. Now, smartphones are outselling PCs, and enough workers are choosing iOS and Android devices for mobile work that Microsoft has to support them or risk losing business.
Microsoft has started to bring consumer products like Bing and Xbox Live to iOS and Android. It also brought OneNote — an application in the Office suite — to iOS, and has released specs so that other phone makers (like Apple) can connect to Exchange email.
But this is the first major business application that Microsoft is building to run natively on other mobile platforms.
Dynamics CRM is part of Microsoft’s Business Division — the company’s biggest, with $4.2 billion in profit on $6.3 billion in sales last quarter. The company doesn’t break out revenues for Dynamics CRM alone, but overall Dynamics revenue has been increasing more than 10% per year for the last few quarters, and Dynamics is a $1 billion+ business now.
So this is serious. It shows that Microsoft is not willing to sacrifice its money-making business apps for the sake of promoting its own way-behind mobile platform, Windows Phone.
That’s a smart choice, given that the iPhone is now bigger than Microsoft’s entire business.
It also lends more weight to the rumours about Microsoft bringing Office to the iPad.