Has iWork Been an iDud for Apple?

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.