At Macworld San Francisco in 2005, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s iWork package, including Pages and Keynote, offering consumer-level alternatives to the Microsoft Office staples Word and PowerPoint (though Pages is admittedly more for page layout than word processing). While the initial coverage spawned questions as to […]

At Macworld San Francisco in 2005, Steve Jobs unveiled Apple’s iWork package, including Pages and Keynote, offering consumer-level alternatives to the Microsoft Office staples Word and PowerPoint (though Pages is admittedly more for page layout than word processing). While the initial coverage spawned questions as to whether the iWork package would force Redmond to discontinue MS Office for the Macintosh, the products haven’t exactly set the marketplace abuzz, as iWork has played the ugly stepsister to the much ballyhooed iLife suite.

Apple’s “Get A Mac” ads have heavily promoted the features of iLife, including iPhoto, iWeb and iTunes, but iWork isn’t even mentioned. And though Jobs loves the additional features and themes of Keynote, I can’t remember the last time I needed to use the program, and the only time we ever unveil Pages is when we’re doing our annual Christmas letter.

While some Mac rumor sites have speculated that Apple would add “Document” and “Charts” to the arsenal as part of iWork ’07, to more directly take on Word and Excel, I don’t know that the Mac community has adopted iWork in the way we have Safari, Mail and other Apple programs. Market share statistics at the very beginning of 2006 showed iWork had 2% of the market, making it a distant second to MS Office in productivity packages, but the release of iWork ’06 was not worth a single slide in Jobs’ MWSF presentation earlier that month.

It seems that iWork is a forgotten tool in Apple’s weaponry, and it’s not making much of a dent in an Office-centric world. While Mac users have proven happy to purchase $129 system upgrades on an annual basis, and Macs or iPods every other year, we just aren’t ponying up for additional Apple software. My Mail.app and QuickTime and Safari are great, but they were free. Unless iWork too becomes free and gets loaded via Software Update, I don’t know that I will ever buy it again, and the Mac community hasn’t charged forward with credit cards in hand for the suite. As product introductions go, this one could very well have been an iDud, a rare one for Apple in this time of resurgence.

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  1. Scott Stevenson Monday, December 18, 2006

    Pages certainly has the shadow of Word to contend with, but Keynote is quite the hit. There was just a round of Keynote lovefest blogging not to long ago.

    Personally, I use Pages for everything I can. I don’t understand why people use Word when there’s generally no need for it, and Pages is much more Mac-like. Maybe it’s an inertia thing.

  2. I teach and I constantly have to make worksheets and such. If I use Word I often get hung up on small stuff– awkward interface, for one. Pages, in contrast, is user friendly and even inviting, in that Mac way. Granted, my purposes are simple. Still, I’ve a feeling there are bound to be a few other people out there just like me. There’s little reason to knock Pages or iWork.

  3. I’ve also been using Pages for a great deal of my work. I’ve got a Windows PC from my company sitting beside my personal Mac. I was using for Word for Windows for my technical documents and fighting the formatting, especially with embedded graphics. Once our organization decided to move to PDFs for sharing I quickly switched to Pages and found that I was fighting my documents a lot less and providing a lot more for the customer.

    Pages just fits my workflow better.

  4. There’s no doubt that pages and keynote are very good apps. The moment you stop comparing them to the competition they shine. But the truth is most poeple won’t buy multiple office suites, and most people will end up buying MS Office. They just dont see the value. But if you show them a demo of pages and keynote they’ll be blown away. If you have even a single presentation to make, the Keynote is worth the price of entry.

    Nonetheless, I truly hope iWork succeeds and gets a big update in January. It’s only going to get better and more impressive.

  5. I absolutely love Pages. It’s easy to use and very powerful. However, it’s cumbersome to have to save duplicate copies of everything so I have a Pages document and a Word document. I’m a college student and frequently have to submit assignments online as Word documents or share files with Windows using classmates. If Pages was my default program for .docs AND would automatically save things as .docs, I’d use it. But if I’m simply editing some homework document I downloaded, it ends up being simpler to just open it in Word and hit cmnd-s when I’m done. It sounds silly, but that’s how I feel. Although I’m trying to break the habit now that I have an Intel Mac.

  6. iWork certainly doesn’t get the same kind of fanfare that other programs do, but I love the suite. Pages, especially. I run a publishing company, and though there are a few instances that I wish Pages could do something (like run a grammar check), for the most part it is wonderful. I can’t fathom going back to Word. The simplicity, the intuitiveness, and the way layout and word processing are so interconnected — please don’t diss Pages. It’s so much better (especially at the price).

  7. Zach: save items as RTF. It’ll work with both Pages and Word without any conversion, and all but very sophisticated formatting will remain intact. And since on Windows .rtf files and .doc files use the same icon, your Windows using classmates/instructors will never notice the difference.

  8. Keynote and Pages are more user friendly and polished than their Windows-based “equivalents”. My main issue using Pages is that it is too slow on my PowerBook 1.5GHZ G4 to use as a word processor. So I write a text using Writeroom and then copy/paste into Pages for layout.

  9. iWorks doesn’t have to compete with Office -now. It has to grow and be in place that it could replace office if the strategic situation will allow/need it. That’s only on marketing level. As tools for average users pages and keynote are already good tools.

  10. I’m a college professor, and so one thing that’s common to all aspects of my job is document creation — mostly presentations and text documents. Since switching to a Mac last year, I’ve found Keynote to be wonderful, and Pages… not so much.

    Keynote is wonderful because it is designed with the right role in mind for presentation software: namely, the integration of content rather than the creation of content. It is exceedingly easy to incorporate all kinds of content — images, video, audio, equations typeset with a LaTeX app like LateX-It (I teach math), etc. — with Keynote, and that’s why it’s 100x easier to use than PowerPoint for me. PPT is designed as if it is supposed to *generate* the content rather than pull it together.

    However, a similar philosophy with Pages just doesn’t work so well. Pages has worked well for me when I am creating complicated, media-intensive documents like handouts for my classes that involve LaTeX-ed equations and graphs. But when I want to just make a simple text document, maybe with a heirarchical structure like an outline, Pages IMHO is just too much for such a simple task. I usually default back to Word — slow and clumsy, sure, but pretty simple — or even LaTeX or a just a text editor.

    And when I work with a publishing company — editing textbooks, etc. — there are always text documents whose changes have to be tracked. Word really shines in this task, whereas I don’t think Pages even has this ability.

    If Apple could come up with a nice free Mac-like alternative to Word — something that does only text documents and allows for collaborative work — then it’d be my #1 most frequently used app overnight.

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