Could the Microsoft OneNote notepad app for Android be indicative of Microsoft’s ability to survive in the tablet world? During the past few months much speculation has surrounded the impending release of a Microsoft Office app for iOS and maybe Android too. For years now iPhone, iPad and Android users have learned to use various office products to create Office compatible documents, spreadsheets and Powerpoint files.
In fact, one application, CloudOn actually figured out a way to bring Office to the tablet allowing its users to create and edit Office documents without even needing an Office app for Android.
Microsoft clearly waited months too long to produce apps for the tablet. Perhaps a best example of this has been the release and subsequent so-so acceptance of the OneNote note taking app by the Android user community.
OneNote appeared in the Android ecosystem in February of this year. On February 7th, the OneNote blog featured a post acknowledging the long wait for the app to make its way to Android and provided the link to the new app’s Android Market page. By that time Evernote had already locked up a tremendous share of the note taking space and Catch Notes and Color Notes had solidified their roles as alternatives to Evernote.
In an article published the next day on the GigaOM website write Kevin Tofel opined, “Microsoft OneNote on Android: nice but late to the party.” Tofel praised the innovative OneNote pricing model that does not require a monthly subscription only a low one time fee after a free 500 note trial period expires. However, he rightly critiqued the failure of Microsoft to provide OneNote for the Android until over a year after the iOS version was released and far later than Evernote produced cross platform compatibility with its popular note taking app.
Tofel pointed to Microsoft’s tardiness as problematic due to the fact that many of his notes were “locked up” on another service by the time of the OneNote release.
Since that time OneNote has been rated just under 3,100 times at an average of 3.5 on the Google Play Store. Compare this to Evernote’s nearly 338,000 ratings, ColorNote’s 134,215 ratings, and Catch Notes’ 31,722 ratings all three with a 4.5 average. In the few months since its release OneNote has not clearly not moved into the top tier of Android notepad apps.
Neither has Microsoft’s commitment to the application seemed especially strong. At least, not by judging from the appearance of the @msonenote Twitter page. The page contains exactly two tweets for the year. The first announced the release of OneNote on the 7th of February. The second responded to a user who had a problem with OneNote. At the very least, a company with the resources of Microsoft could easily provide a robust social media promotion of the app and seek to aggressively advance it as a forerunner to the release of the other components of the Microsoft ecosystem.
The mindset of Microsoft seems to be stuck in the pre-social media era.
Don’t count on Microsoft Office for iOS and Android to be the game changer that many people think it will be. At least not if OneNote is any indicator. Much like Evernote users continue using Evernote at the expense of OneNote Office for tablet will be hard pressed to pull away the user of the other apps who have already become accustomed to producing Word documents in other environments.
Certainly Microsoft will promote its Office app much more aggressively than the OneNote app and in fairness it probably isn’t a great apples to apples comparison. But, Microsoft just doesn't’ seem to have to track record to be successful in the new environment in which it finds itself. They will be forced to innovate in order to win back users and there are not a lot of reasons to suggest they are equipped to be innovative.