CNet's news.comÂ reportsÂ thatÂ Apple's iWorkÂ took the number two spot in 2005 for retail sales for office software suites. At first, I found that to be a bit crazy sounding, but after a moment of reflection, I can honestly say I use iWork more than twice as often as I useÂ Microsoft Office.
I'm waiting for the PC people to start tearing the story apart and making the obvious feature comparisons to the suites. iWork includes no spreadsheet application or database, and Pages is no more than a stripped down, template based, rich text editor when compared to MS Word. True, double true.
Pages doesn't hold a candle to the countless features packed into Word. However, that is precisely why I personally don't use Word as often. Heck, sometimes I prefer Text Edit to Pages for the same reason. Word is kind of intimidating. When you start a Pages document, the whole thing is practically created. All you do is drop in media from your iLife apps and replace the filler text with your own. What's not more desireable about that?
Of course, when it comes to real industry standard compatibility, Word is the way to go.
Lest we forget Keynote
Keynote is what I believe to be at the heart of iWork's retail success in 2k5. Say all you want about Pages being a cute toy when compared to Word, but compare PowerPoint to Keynote and PowerPoint looks like a broken down piece of shit that no one wants, in comparison.
I work in a ten person, in-house design department. Each one of us has had to make a PowerPoint presentation for a sales person or senior staff member at some point. And each one of us has had the most difficult time getting acceptable results from PowerPoint. Short of creating your slides in Illustrator and importing each slide as a separate image file, it's impossible to get anything halfway decent looking out of that thing.
Usability is even more frustrating. Even in its infancy, Keynote is 1000x less cryptic than PowerPoint. Most of us in the design department end up creating PowerPoint presentations in Keynote, then exporting them to PowerPoint if that is what the client is using to present. It still does quite a number on them with the ugly stick, though.
So there you have it. Before you go around laughing at the statistics, remember that presentation software is a very critical part to an office suite, and Microsoft's solution can't hold a sticky fart to Apple's.