Apple has taken another step toward turning iWork into a service anyone can take advantage of, similar to Google’s web-based productivity suite. The company made its iWork for iCloud apps available to anyone, regardless of whether or not they have any Apple hardware, so long as they have or sign up for an Apple ID. So far, that’s only available via the public iCloud Beta, but presumably if all goes well with the test that will roll out to the standard version of iCloud after that.
The web-based versions of Apple’s iWork suite are surprisingly complete, and also manage to keep getting better, thanks to updates that have brought features like interactive charts and a much better user interface to the platform since its introduction back in 2013.
iWork used to be a paid productivity suite that Apple sold first via boxed copies then via the Mac App Store. Today, it completes the transition from revenue source to value-add service for iWork, with a web version that serves as a taste of Apple’s ecosystem offerings even for the uninitiated. The fact is that iWork for Apple is something to dangle at potential customers, which gives it an advantage over Microsoft, which still has to derive revenue somehow from Office, despite a gradual decrease in cost to access for Redmond’s productivity software.
Apple generally enjoys a halo effect resulting from people using their lower cost entry-level devices and investing in other parts of their product line. iWork presents a new opportunity to bring in new customers and take advantage of that halo effect, and it’ll be interesting to see just how far Apple goes in terms of offering iCloud services independent of hardware.