Redmond's roost: Most Mac owners still buy Office

While Apple now claims more than 10 percent of the personal-computing market, until the company solves its dependence on the productivity suite, it remains vulnerable to Microsoft.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

Apple may be the poster child for showing the industry how to compete effectively with Microsoft, but the company isn't free of Redmond's long arm just yet.

Despite spending years, and millions of dollars in research and development, on its own suite of productivity software, 77 percent of Mac users stick with Microsoft Office, according to a TechFlash report.

I love my Mac, but I couldn't use it without Office. In this, I'm sure I'm not alone, which must give Apple pause whenever it celebrates its rising Mac market share.

Perhaps this is why Apple is releasing a SharePoint-esque knockoff designed around its Pages and Numbers programs, taking Microsoft head-on in document collaboration.

The strategy won't work. Until Apple actually starts winning market share with its iWork suite, it won't matter if the five or six customers who actually use it can collaborate with each other.

No, to end Microsoft's latent stranglehold on its Mac market share, Apple needs to do one of two things vis-a-vis office productivity: go disruptive with a Web-based offering in the manner that Google has, or invest deeply in OpenOffice.org to make it a viable, rock-solid enterprise competitor to Microsoft Office. The first path leads to Mountain View (Google). The second? To Menlo Park (Sun).

Regardless of which path Apple takes, at some point, it must address Microsoft Office. Yes, people could just run Office in a virtual machine or through Boot Camp, but that really only deepens its dependence on Microsoft.

What do you think Apple should do? Or does it matter?