iWork for iOS going free gives Microsoft something to think about

Slipped into the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c keynote earlier this week, was the announcement that the iWork suite of apps for iOS would be going free with new iOS device purchases. This includes mobile productivity apps Pages, Numbers and Keynote, Apple's answer to Microsoft Office. There's been much said about how this might affect Microsoft's product, and Paul Thurrott of the Supersite for Windows has weighed in:

I'm not 100 percent convinced that iWork is an Office killer. But as with my note about Chrome OS yesterday—see In New Attack on Windows, Chromebook Heads to Intel "Haswell" for the details—this is something Microsoft needs to take seriously. I will be keeping an eye on this as well.

That's actually the final paragraph of a pretty in depth piece that considers the argument from both sides. One point in Apple's favor on mobile is that access to mobile Office on iOS costs $99.99 a year, and due to the platforms prevalence there's a whole lot less people that will consider Office in the face of a free alternative. After all, for many iWork does just as good a job as Office. Desktop or mobile.

It's almost certainly not an Office killer, at least, not yet. But mobile is fast becoming a focus for productivity, and on iOS at least Microsoft does stand to lose out if they do nothing. I implore you to head on over and read Thurrott's full piece, as it offers an extremely well rounded point of view. When you come back, let me know; do you think iWork going free on iOS will impact on Microsoft Office at all?

Source: Supersite for Windows

Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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There are 16 comments. Add yours.

kch50428 says:

Free iWork is indeed not an Office killer - immediately... it's potentially a proverbial slow death by a thousand cuts...

impaler says:

iWork will not unseat Office any time soon, any more than OS X will unseat Windows as the predominant desktop/laptop OS. However, Apple isn't after market share, they're after platform lock in and a singular, seamless experience. Between iWork, iLife, iTunes and iCloud, Apple is attempting to make it more and more painful to look outside the Apple ecosystem for a solution. You can definitely argue about the seamlessness of this experience but don't doubt that's Apple's end state.

EPJS says:

In my opinion, iWork already unseated Office as far as what college kids are using. From 2002 to 2010 I've seen a transition from the majority using Office to the majority using iWork. Around the year 2007 is when I saw the main jump in suite preferences. By the time I finished my studies in 2010, only 10% of the students were using Microsoft Office. The main reason is because of the price point, at the time iWork was $70 and Office was over $150

Derrick4Real says:

apple's been strong in student markets for a long time. The problem is the people that run companies hire those kids and sit them in front of a windows machine. That being said, hey my next laptop is gonna be a mac book pro. switching from an HP windows machine after a long time away from apple.

stulaw11 says:

Unseat it definitely not. No one is really ever unseated per se, not even a RIM in the phone world. I think it will be like Gmail; it will start chipping away at Microsoft's share of the office space.

MS Office will never go away totally, but in terms of mobile, Apple will certainly have the upper hand over any paid Office solution when Apple's is free; and that will certainly sway consumers to switch in light of getting a seamless mobile to PC experience.

ame says:

I don't think it's a killer no, but I think it will be a trickle effect. I have iWork on my mac and it's simply, to me, not a replacement for Office.

Dionte says:

That gives them something to think about.

acieszkowski says:

Wanting to travel lightly and use only my iPad on business trips, I've had to embrace iWork. Is it as intuitive as some other apple products? Not even close. Especially when migrating from Office. But it is convenient, does just about everything I need and has the benefit of being able to use and save Office files. So convenient in fact that I've actually deleted Office from my Mac so that I only have to use one piece of software to edit my files. Sorry Microsoft, it may not kill office, but I'm done with it.

EPJS says:

As much as I love iWork on my Mac, I hate the iPad version. It's way too limited. I can do things in Pages or Keynote on my Mac, that I simply can't do on my iPad.

RorryAffiat says:

iWork kill MS Office? maybe soon, but not right now,. especially not yet on the emerging market.
cos there is still a lot of people using low cost pc, and they don't have an iOS device yet or event any mobile device.

chris_328 says:

I think no. Apple said that the free iWork for all new IOS devices will be eligible only if you bought an iDevice after September 1.
So some people will only be benefited for a free download of iWork after they bought an IOS device after September 1.
Still it will not gonna impact on MS office.

If iWork will gonna be free on all IOS 7 users, it will gonna make an impact to MS office.

uncommon-asian says:

According to http://www.apple.com/iphone-5s/built-in-apps/: "iPhoto, iMovie, Keynote, Pages, and Numbers are free on the App Store for qualifying iOS 7 compatible devices activated as of September 1, 2013."

poiman says:

You can't use a Wacom Inkling Stylus nor a mouse with an iOS device... There goes most of the productivity you can get in other platforms using Office.

Jody Wasson says:

I got a request to beta test iWork on my Mac and PC. Will I get them free when ios7 comes out Wednesday?

Sent from the iMore App

rockerchick says:

I've never cared for office. Wouldn't even buy it at the student rate for my mac. I've been an iWork's user and it is brilliant. I've created beautiful desktop layouts and documents with it. At home I use nothing else. Alas work makes me use a PC so I have no choice but to slog and suffer through it.

Sent from the iMore App

Lych says:

I don't think this is a direct threat to Office on it's own. The main reason is that this is a limited version running on iPhones and iPads (okay, and iPod Touches). As far as I can see, people still use their productivity suites mostly on their desktop devices and or laptops. Windows Phone had Office since the start basically and while it's a nice feature to have, in reality it's more like a last resort when you don't have access to a PC/laptop. And Office web apps are free too. Not to mention Google's own productivity suite which essentially beat everyone to the game.

The other point relates to this in that the desktop version of iWork still only exists as a payed version as well and is also platform locked. If my company insists on Office compatibility, I can install it on my Mac/MacBook, but I won't be able to get a version of iWork running on my work PC any time soon. And since larger companies still rely mostly on PCs (mostly due to cheaper maintenance and lower overall entry cost), I don't see it seriously impacting MS's monopoly in the near future.

Web apps are a nice thing to have but I can't see people relying on them steadily. And they're practically useless during flights and on the go, unless you have internet connection.

p.s.: please excuse my crappy English :)