Microsoft’s decision to expand its Office suite to mobile platforms like Android and iOS appears to have paid off. Android Police reported on July 12 that Microsoft Word for Android has been installed more than 1 billion times, according to official Google Play Store statistics, since it was released in 2015.
It’s unfortunate that Google reports Play Store installs with broad milestones like “1,000,000,000+” rather than offering slightly more details. (Not that we’re complaining too much, since Apple doesn’t reveal any such information about the App Store.) Word is now in the same bracket as Facebook, and even though we’d find it funny if Android users edited documents on-the-go as often as they browsed social media, we doubt that’s actually the case.
But having a billion users on Android is still noteworthy. That means Word is officially installed on more devices than Windows 10, which had 825 million active users in May, according to a Thurrott report based on an internal document spotted at Build 2019. Word can also be used on iOS, macOS, and Windows 10; including the installs from those platforms would probably allow Microsoft’s word processor to dwarf its operating system in popularity.
Word’s popularity on Android (as well as the other platforms we mentioned) actually lends some validation to the company’s shift toward a subscription-based service model instead of relying on one-time purchases. Word previously had to be limited mostly to Microsoft’s platforms in a bid to convince people they should purchase Windows updates or buy Windows Phone devices so they could access Office.
Which seems more likely: people using platforms they don’t like because Office isn’t available elsewhere or people finding Office alternatives on the platforms they prefer? A few decades ago it was probably the former; in recent years it’s become the latter. Losing to Google and Apple in the mobile market led Microsoft to realize it might have better luck trying to make money from its competitors’ success than continuing to compete with them.