Let us now welcome Apple to the cloud computing arms race, according to the numerous reports out of the Steve Jobs-less Macworld, where company officials unveiled a hosted version of iWork.com that includes the Keynote presentation, Pages word processing and Numbers spreadsheet applications hosted on the Internet, aka the cloud.
But rather than positioning this tool as an aggressive new entry to the hosted applications space, Apple said iWork.com is more about the ability to share desktop documents created in iWork '09 via the Internet. Apple described iWork.com in a press release as:
"a new service Apple is developing to share iWork '09 documents online. Using your Apple ID, just click the iWork.com icon in the Keynote, Pages or Numbers toolbar to upload your document and invite others to view it online. Viewers can provide comments and notes, and download a copy of your document in iWork, Microsoft Office or PDF formats. A consolidated online list of all your shared documents indicates when your viewers have posted comments."
Even so, iWork.com, which you can download here for a free 30-day trial, joins Google Docs, some Zoho apps, Microsoft Office Live Workspace and other offerings as the latest suite of messaging and collaboration apps running in the cloud.
"The suite is clearly intended to take on Microsoft SharePoint and Google Docs, but approaches online document management somewhat differently. Rather than editing and organizing documents only through a Web interface, Apple has integrated the online aspect into the familiar native iLife apps as well."
Expect existing iWork suite users to use iWork.com, but few others beyond that, especially with Apple charging for these apps.
iWork 2009 is available now from the Apple Store for $79 or $49 with the purchase of any Mac. The
additional gouging subscription fee for iWork.com will be announced at a later date.
Mac lovers only should subscribe. I don't care how pretty it is or how cool the features in iWork.com are, give me free Google Apps or Zoho on my PC or netbook any day.