Apple’s iWork for Mac will only be as smart as his two dumb little brothers

The rant of an Apple iWork heavy user regarding the latest update

With the last version of Apple’s iWork being almost neglected for 4 years, I feared the next version would only be a facelift with no added features, but what happened is even worse: Apple crippled iWork for the Mac to match its less capable siblings, the iOS and the iCloud versions.

As Eddy Cue announced, the suite is now fully cross compatible. Well, that’s great but…

Couldn’t cross compatibility have been achieved by making the dumb brothers smarter instead of the smart brother dumber?

If you wish to know how committed users are reacting, you can go to the Apple Communities posts for pages, Numbers and Keynote regarding “lost features”. The list on each app is not only extensive but it includes important features for regular users. Or just see how it is being rated:

Customer satisfaction for the new Apple Pages after four days on the US Mac App Store

So, instead of making the mediocre solutions of the ecosystem catch up to the most capable one, Apple decided to standardize mediocrity. The question, of course, remains: what happens when you slash the top of the pyramid who, presumably, does 80% of the writing, presenting and number crunching and give them no alternative? Time will tell.

Why is this happening?

To reach a broader audience, of course. And it sounds logical. Some might say something like “it is part of Apple’s strategy to get more people into their ecosystem”. And I get it but, did it have to be like this? Couldn’t they have worked on a Pro version (or a lite version) of the suite? It is not like Apple killed Aperture in order to focus on iPhoto or killed Final Cut Pro X in order to focus on iMovie.

Come on, the software is called iWork! It is intended to be used professionally. So my answer to why this happened is this:

Apple doesn’t see iWork as professional software anymore. It has become the cheap disposable toy inside a Happy Meal in order to sell more hardware.

iWork is now all about reaching more people, not about letting people do more. It is about all platforms doing the same, not about making the most out of each platform. It is about disrupting other companies’ business model while disrupting their own paying customer base.

Some expert Apple journalists like Jordan Goldson of Macrumors are comparing this event to the Final Cut Studio to Final Cut Pro X upgrade. As much as there are resemblances, in order to fully understand what is happening here one would have to imagine Final Cut Pro being discontinued in favor of iMovie.

The only update for the prior iWork is to upgrade to a dumbed down version. The Appstore will give us nothing else. And the way I see it,

if full iOS editability is the rule, there will be no alternative from Apple for those who use iWork to actually work.

Why? Because:

  • From a usability perspective, iOS devices will not be able to do as much as iWork could do on a Mac.
  • From a market perspective, iOS users will not demand the features Mac users do.

So in conclusion, even though with the new iWork for Mac I’ll be able to do the same things I can on my iPad and my iPhone, at the end of the day…

  1. I’ll be able to do less.
  2. It’ll take me more time.

I can’t say I’m thankful for this. I guess a lot of people as well as myself, would have gladly kept on paying for iWork if things were different. No wonder why the new version is free.

I will keep iWork ‘09 for as long as possible.

Juan Carlos H.

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