The iPad has been giving PC makers ulcers for two years now. Research group Gartner reported that PC shipments declined 1.4% last quarter to 92.2 million, and it attributes at least some of that drop to consumers spending on Apple‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) tablet rather than a new laptop or desktop.
Up to now, though, PC makers, and even Apple, have in most cases seen sales of Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) Latitudes, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) Pavilions, and MacBooks accompanied by purchases of one product in particular: Microsoft‘s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Office. The Office Suite of tools, including apps like Word and Excel, are ubiquitous for businesses, schools, and personal use alike. The Office segment brings in $20 billion in revenue each year on its own.
And yet Office still hasn’t officially and formally made the jump to the iPad.
Whatever future Office might have on the iPad likely will become clearer in the near future. A Wednesday report out of The Daily claimed that Microsoft was demo-ing a working prototype of Office for iPad, but Microsoft denied the app suite’s existence, claiming that the company would make an announcement in “the coming weeks” to discuss its tablet plans for Office.
In the absence of Office on the iPad, though, a number of companies have stepped up to capitalize on iPad users’ interest in Office. Here are five app developers and their Office-like products for the iPad.
Streaming specialist OnLive started as a purely video game business, streaming games typically reserved for machines like Sony‘s (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 3 to PCs and televisions, much like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) does movies. The company diversified in January with OnLive Desktop, a service that literally streams a Windows 7 desktop, including Office tools, to your iPad. OnLive Desktop has been praised by the press. It’s available for free as package of simple applications and for $5 per month in a version that includes Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) Flash functionality.
DataViz’s business for nearly 30 years has been in apps that convert files from one platform to another, but these days it exclusively specializes in bringing Microsoft Office to other devices. DataViz’s Documents to Go is an app available for not just the iPad, but the iPhone, Research in Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) BlackBerry device, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android handsets, and even Nokia‘s (NYSE:NOK) Symbian phones.
Another product from an independent company, CloudOn‘s app for iPad goes a step further than OnLive’s service by re-creating Office tools Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in their entirety for the tablet. CloudOn works through cloud-based file storage and sharing service Dropbox.
Google declared war on Office when it started offering Google Apps, a suite of tools including Gmail, Google Calendar, and the Office-like Google Docs, as an alternative. Google Docs isn’t available as a native app on Apple’s portables, at least not yet, but intrepid app maker Lightroom made GoDocs. GoDocs costs just $5 and works much the same way that CloudOn does, re-creating Google Docs for Apple handhelds.
Then of course there’s iWork, Apple’s official suite of Office-like tools. iWork has been available since the first iPad released in April 2010, and has been the most reliable Office alternative on the tablet since. Apple’s office tools have never been as widely used as Microsoft’s, though, which is why there’s still such demand for alternatives.