Apple/Microsoft SkyDrive fight may actually be about Office

There may be something bigger behind Apple and Microsoft’s argument over SkyDrive and in-app purchases than SkyDrive itself -- Office. Microsoft is reportedly trying to pressure Apple into cutting a special deal over Office 365 subscriptions. With Office for iOS still rumored to be coming next spring, and with Office 365 subscriptions rumored to be required to perform any real creative functions, there could be a considerable amount of money on the line for both companies. John Paczkowski of All Things D reports:

So [Microsoft] has been pushing Apple to adjust the 70/30 revenue split in its developer license agreement. Predictably, Apple has refused to comply. It’s not yet clear what sort of concession Microsoft is seeking, but whatever it is, Apple’s evidently not willing to consider it. Indeed, I’m told it’s taken a “the rules are the rules” stance, which would suggest it’s not at all willing to negotiate a different split. Apple’s position: If a customer comes through its gateway, it feels it is deserved the commission outlined in 11.12 of its developer license.

Now, it’s possible that it’s less straightforward than Microsoft wanting a lower rate. That’s undoubtedly true, yes, but in paying for Office 365 through their iTunes account, even if a user switched to a different platform such as Android or Windows Phone, unless they also changed their payment method, Apple would still take a 30% cut of the subscription revenue.

It would be understandable for Microsoft to be concerned about this. But Apple won’t create special rules for different companies, at least not any time soon. A similar arrangement already exists for other companies that provide subscriptions to their services through iTunes, including Netflix, Hulu, and Rdio. The best that Microsoft can do in that particular situation is heavily encourage users to change their payment method away from iTunes.

So it could come down to who needs Office on iOS more -- Apple or Microsoft?