Microsoft's freemium Office apps jump to top of iPad chart

Word, Excel and PowerPoint vault to No. 1, 2 and 3 on Apple's free iPad list

Microsoft's new Office for iPad apps vaulted to the top of the free application chart on Apple's App Store shortly after their Thursday debut.

The long-awaited, highly anticipated apps -- Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- were ranked No. 1, 2 and 3 early today on the App Store's free iPad app list.

OneNote, which had already been in the App Store -- it was also refreshed yesterday -- held down the No. 4 spot, giving Microsoft four of the top five for the iPad.

Office for iPad also put out impressive coattails, dragging Office Mobile on the iPhone along with it. According to App Annie, a mobile app analytics vendor, Office Mobile jumped to No. 9 yesterday on the U.S. list from a dismal No. 569 the day before. Apple's own free iPhone chart put Office Mobile at No. 7 early today.

Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint jumped to the top of Apple's iPad App Store chart within hours of their Thursday debut.

Microsoft helped juice Office Mobile's downloads by changing the rules for the app, allowing free full functionality for home users. Business customers, however, must still subscribe to an Office 365 plan.

Frank Shaw, Microsoft's top corporate communications executive, trumpeted the quick climb of the Office for iPad apps today in a Twitter message that referenced a post by TechCrunch.

Apple also highlighted the Office for iPad apps on the home page of its App Store, one of six touts by the Cupertino, Calif., company that also included Major League Baseball's At Bat, games like Beach Boom and Star Wars: Assault Team, and the Get Stuff Done productivity app.

Microsoft went with a "freemium" monetization model with the Office for iPad apps. iPad owners can download Word, Excel and PowerPoint and use them to view documents, spreadsheets and presentations free of charge.

To activate advanced features -- including document creation and editing -- users must have a valid subscription to one of the many Office 365 rent-not-buy plans Microsoft offers.

For consumers, the Office 365 Home Premium plan costs $100 annually. Businesses have a variety of programs to choose from that start at $150 per user per year and climb to $264 per user per year.

Some analysts had said it was possible that Office for iPad would launch to an anemic reaction -- in part because in the years since Apple launched its first tablet, users had gravitated to other apps for their productivity needs. However, the initial response to the Word-Excel-PowerPoint trio has been robust.

Apple's own iWork productivity apps, which the company began giving away last fall to all new iPad owners, ranked No. 36 (Pages), No. 50 (Keynote) and No. 51 (Numbers) today.

This article, Microsoft's freemium Office apps jump to top of iPad chart, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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