Consumer Office 365 subscription growth slows

Subscription list tops 23M, but added the smallest number in more than two years

Microsoft this week said that consumer subscriptions to Office 365 topped 23 million, signaling that the segment's once prodigious year-over-year growth had slowed significantly.

The Redmond, Wash. company regularly talks up the latest subscription numbers for the consumer-grade Office 365 plans -- the $100 a year Home and the $70 Personal -- and did so again this week during an earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

"We also see momentum amongst consumers, with now more than 23 million Office 365 subscribers," CEO Satya Nadella said Tuesday.

But analysis of Microsoft's consumer Office 365 numbers showed that the rate of growth -- or as Nadella put it, "momentum" -- has slowed.

For the June quarter, the 23.1 million cited by Microsoft in its filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) represented a 52% increase over the same period the year prior. Although most companies would give their eye teeth -- or maybe a few executives -- to boast of a rate of increase that size, it was the smallest since Microsoft began providing subscription data in early 2013.

A year before, the June 2015 quarter sported a consumer Office 365 subscription growth rate of 171% over the same three-month span in 2014.

The subscription increase also was small in absolute terms: Microsoft added approximately 900,000 to the rolls during the June quarter, down from 2.8 million the year before and also less than the 1.6 million accumulated in 2016's March quarter.

The 900,000 additional subscribers added in the June quarter were the smallest number in more than two years.

While Microsoft did not directly address the slowing of growth in the consumer Office 365 market, it did attribute a similar trend among corporate subscriptions to the difficulty of maintaining huge year-over-year percentage gains as the raw numbers of subscriptions increased.

"We're ... getting a very big base," said chief financial officer Amy Hood this week. "And so while we feel great about continuing to add seats at that type of rate, converting and adding net new into our install base, you will see that growth rate come down just because the business is getting quite big."

o365 consumer subs Data: Microsoft

Consumer subscriptions to Office 365 topped 23 million in the June quarter, but the year-over-year growth rate slipped to its lowest ever: 52%.

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