According to a report in TechCrunch, Microsoft’s manic bid to dominate mobile productivity continued this week with an as-yet-unannounced $100+ million purchase of online calendar maker Sunrise. The Sunrise calendar is notable for a number of reasons, including its pervasive support for third-party data sources. And this purchase complements an earlier $200 million purchase of Accompli, which Microsoft is using as the basis for its Outlook mobile clients going forward.
“At Sunrise, we’re working every day to build a better calendar,” a Sunrise team blog post from about six months ago notes, providing a nice summary of the company’s goals. “And we believe a better calendar emerges when it’s designed as a platform. Millions of people are using calendars every day, and each of us have a life that’s unique. We need a calendar that’s personalized for everyone. Apps are the best way to get there.”
Microsoft has declined to comment on this story, which suggests that TechCrunch is onto something. The firm similarly refused to comment on a similar story about its Accompli purchase in late November 2014, and that purchase was announced just days later.
As far as the details, there isn’t much to say: TechCrunch’s sources say that Microsoft paid “at least” $100 million for Sunrise, which was founded in 2012.
Which leads us nicely to the rationale behind this purchase, which is clear enough: Microsoft spent much of 2014 racing forward with its “mobile first, cloud first” strategy, which involved rapidly releasing numerous productivity-focused mobile apps primarily on Android, iPhone and iPad, though we’ve seen a shift towards Windows and Windows Phone in early 2015 thanks to the pending release of Windows 10.
Where Microsoft can’t innovate quickly enough in mobile, however, it has been open to leaping ahead by purchasing other companies that perform particularly well in the areas it wishes to dominate. Accompli is a key example: When I examined this mobile app last November, it was immediately obvious that it was essentially Microsoft Outlook, but running on Android and iOS, with integrated email, contacts, calendar and cloud storage components. Since purchasing Accompli, Microsoft has updated the app to be named Outlook, and it has said that the team responsible for this app is working on the new Outlook for Windows 10 apps as well.
Sunrise, like Accompli, has a mobile app focus and works well with a surprisingly long list of online calendars and other data sources. And it is an extensible platform with a set of APIs developers can use to integrate with the Sunrise apps. It also has a strong web client, which presumably Microsoft will meld with the calendars in Outlook.com and Office 365. (Sunrise has a Mac app as well.)
Also like Accompli, Sunrise is highly-rated: The mobile apps enjoy an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars across the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and there are almost one million installs on Android alone. (Apple doesn’t disclose install figures for all apps.)
You can find its calendar clients at the links below.
And for more information, here’s a quick video describing the mobile app functionality.