At its big media event today, Apple announced that anyone who purchases a new iOS device — iPhone, iPad, 5th generation iPod Touch — will receive the iWork suite of apps for free, including Keynote, Pages and Numbers.
Those three are the iOS equivalent to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Apple’s decision to offer those up without charge is a pre-emptive strike against Microsoft, which offers mobile versions of Word, Excel and other apps via Office 365 for iPhone, but requires a $100/year subscription. Microsoft has so far stopped short of offering a native Office app for Apple’s iPad.
Al Hilwa, an industry analyst at research firm IDC, wrote up a great piece on GeekWire offering up ten changes for Microsoft’s next CEO. His first recommendation focused on shipping Office for iPad and Android tablets:
This is a decision that has to be made soon. The Office franchise is exposed to erosion as non-Windows mobile devices take productivity work away from Windows PCs and mobile devices. Microsoft has always thought of integration of applications and platforms as a sacred right and fought for it hard in the DOJ case, but it has to rethink its vision of the dominance of Windows in the mobile world and adjust to the reality that it will be at best one of several major players in future devices and will never have the control it did in the pre-touch era. Supporting non-Windows tablets full bore will maximize Microsoft’s paths of eventual success.
Apple today also announced two new iPhones and said that iOS 7 will ship on September 18. In addition to Keynote, Pages and Numbers, the company is offering iPhoto and iMovie up without charge. Including iWork, that’s $40 in apps Apple users can now use for free.