Apple's iWork Opens for Windows Users Without Apple IDs
By the end of 2014, there were about 63.4 million iPhones in use around the United States according to Statista (Apple hasn’t released current user numbers). The takeaway is simple, tens of millions of iOS users have become accustomed to purchasing new devices and using their Apple ID to sync their photos, music, notes, contacts and bookmarks with iCloud.
So how do you get them to use content collaboration tools on those devices?
With the arrival of the iPhone 6, Apple updated its default Productivity folder with Pages, Numbers and Keynote – apps from its iWork office suite (previously, it just had the Maps app). Each app in the iWork app suite saves content to each user’s iCloud account. And as we discovered last year, it was painfully easy to access and edit that saved content when we logged into our iCloud account from our Windows-based PC.
For simple editing and document creation, iWork feels intuitive but lacks the high level of collaboration that Office 365 offers. Earlier this week, ZD Net noticed that Apple opened iCloud to Windows users for free (which means that those users didn’t need an Apple ID to access iWork's suite of tools). We've already seen comments from people that have been using iWork for iCloud's browser-based tools in operating systems including Unix.
The announcement was subtle and slight. We don?t expect a massive market shift to occur following this development. On one level, Apple may simply be playing catchup as Microsoft's iOS-based Office apps have been gaining interest -- especially the sleek new Outlook app formerly known as Acompli. On another, Apple charges users if they want to go beyond their free 5 GB of storage. More content creation apps might get iCloud users to pay for more space as they create more content.
Yet, we have noticed Apple giving iWork for iCloud the ability to collaborate with up to 100 users and support for documents up to 1 GB in size – features that would interest enterprise or small business customers.
Apple might be catching up but if it did decide to move into the content collaboration marketplace, it already has some of the tools to compete. Now we have to wonder, will it?