Apple appears set to do something completely different with the release of iOS 7.
It’s going to make iWork, its suite of productivity apps, free for users, according to Mark Gurman and Seth Weintraub of 9 to 5 Mac.
iWork is Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s Office. It’s made up of Numbers, which is Apple’s version of Excel, Pages which is Apple’s version of Word, and Keynote which is Apple’s version of PowerPoint.
Right now, those apps are $20 each through the Mac App Store. On iOS, they’re $10 each. So, if you’re an all-Apple user, then you’re paying $90 for the full suite across OS X and iOS.
During Apple’s developer conference, WWDC, it introduced iWork for iCloud, which is a web-based version of all those native desktop and mobile apps.
Gurman notes that iCloud is Apple’s suite of free online products. Therefore, it would follow that iWork for iCloud would be free, too.
But, if Apple makes the web-based version of iWork free, it’s inconsistent. After all, people are paying $90 for the native applications on iOS and OS X.
Gurman says there are whispers of Apple just making iWork for Mac and iOS free. On Twitter, Seth Weintraub, who runs 9 to 5 Mac says of the possibility that Apple would stop charging for iWork: “Let’s just say, I wouldn’t buy before September.”
It sure sounds like iWork is going to be free.
Apple has always included some great software applications with its devices. iPhoto and iMovie are two examples. So, it’s not crazy for Apple to throw in iWork.
But, iWork has been a great seller for Apple. In the Mac app store, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are three of the top four paid apps. They are also in the top 50 for paid iPad apps.
The reason Apple is going to toss them in as part of iOS 7 is to fend off Microsoft and Google.
Microsoft includes Office with the Surface. It has no plans to bring a full suite of Office apps to the iPad for at least another year, we believe.
This gives Apple an opportunity to cut into the power of Office, ever so slightly, and put its platform on even footing with Windows tablets which are using Office as a marketing point.
Google offers Google Docs, which is free.
A free suite of competitive software is another way for Apple to sell more iPads, iPhones, and Macs, which is Apple’s real business.
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