Will Microsoft release a version of Office for Apple’s iPhone?
That was the speculation Tuesday when Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Mac Business Unit quietly announced it will hold a conference call on Aug. 13, but didn’t disclose the call’s topic — an uncharacteristic behavior for the group.
All that’s really known so far is that Eric Wilfrid, general manager of the Mac Business Unit, will host the call. The unit produces Office for Mac, among other products.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the call but declined to provide additional details.
Tech blog site TechFlash set off the speculation that Wilfrid may be announcing a version of Office for the iPhone, which comes on the heels of rumors spawned following the Web 2.0 Expo in April
While he didn’t announce a version of Office for the iPhone during his presentation at the conference, Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft’s Business Division, hinted that the company may have a surprise in store, telling the audience to “just keep watching.”
After Elop made that statement, many tech sites bubbled with rumors of Office for the iPhone, although the talk remains unverified speculation.
There are plenty of reasons to doubt the latest rumor, however.
Microsoft already has a version of Office for Windows Mobile. Additionally, the company recently published a case study of how to port an iPhone app to Windows Mobile 6.5, and the company recently opened application submission for its Windows Marketplace for Mobile wireless app store — a direct competitor to Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) App Store.
Another of Elop’s recent speeches may provide another clue.
At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in New Orleans in mid-July, Elop demonstrated the upcoming Office Web 2010 components — free, browser-based versions of the most popular Office apps.
The apps, which are set to begin a “technical preview” this month, include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. They will run on Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari — the latter of which is available in a version for the iPhone.
During his WPC speech, Elop attempted to show off an iPhone displaying a PowerPoint presentation through Safari. The demonstration proved unsuccessful, however, apparently due to too much wireless traffic in the conference hall, Elop said.
“What we can demonstrate to you, however, is that same experience of advancing the slides on an iPhone or any other browser-based environment is supported, and something we’re looking forward to sharing with you, so it will be a great experience,” Elop added.