Interestingly, Apple has made the decision to no longer require a serial number for the retail copy of iWork. It doesn’t require any online activation, and — in the same fashion as iLife — would seem to have no piracy prevention as such.
Apple notes that:
iWork ’09 retail boxes no longer come with a serial number. Install iWork ’09 from the enclosed disc and you’re ready to go.
Obviously a serial is still required if you choose to download and activate the iWork trial via the Apple website.
Though retail versions of iWork ’09 no longer come with serial numbers, you will need a serial number if you are using the iWork ’09 trial version and decide to purchase the fully-functional version of iWork ’09
Potential Reasons Why
There are a number of different reasons why Apple may have chosen to take this route. Firstly, it could simply be that the method of using a serial key is a fairly ineffective anti-piracy tool. Serials soon become widely available online, making it easy to steal the software without purchasing a license.
Secondly it could be that Apple is planning to take iWork down the same route as iLife, bundling the application as standard with a new Mac. This is a move I would have already expected Apple to make, as it’s a logical step towards generating widespread use of their software. When faced with a choice between iWork and Microsoft Office for Mac, consumers are likely to choose the option they are already familiar with. If iWork is bundled for free, however, it is a no-brainer to at least give the software a try before electing to purchase Office.
Why Does This Matter?
It may seem as though this change in policy is a fairly trivial concern, and one not likely to make any difference to you. However, this type of minor shift can tell a story about what is happening behind the scenes at Apple. In this case, they would seem to be accepting that anti-piracy isn’t worthwhile (if people see their software worth stealing, it must be a sign that it’s good!). This puts them in a very different camp to Microsoft, who has been inventing ever more elaborate methods of protecting Windows Vista and Office in recent years.
It will be interesting to see how long companies continue the cat and mouse game of copy protection before accepting that it is a phenomenon of the software world that they will struggle to battle against.
At present, purchasing iWork costs $79, and includes Keynote ’09, Pages ’09 and Numbers ’09. I expect that the price will remain the same for a reasonable period on account of the new version just being released; it could be another year before any move to bundling it with a Mac is considered.