iPhone5S_launchOther than the new finger print scanner, everything else launched by Apple on Tuesday seemed to be the usual interim ‘S’ model

component upgrades. Even the ‘new’ iPhone 5C is essentially just the iPhone 5 in new pyjamas.

Along with the usual facts and figures on sales and usage we had another walk through of iOS7 and detail on some of the hardware upgrades for the latest and greatest iPhone.
However, the significant revelation as far as I could see was the announcement that the mobile iOS versions of Apple’s iWork suite – Numbers, Pages and Keynote – along with iPhoto and iMovie, would be available for free for all new iOS 7 device purchases.

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Where previously each of these would be separate purchases totalling about £27, Apple are now going to give them away.

A quick look at the App Store Top Paid App listings shows that these are pretty popular apps which have no doubt made Apple a fortune in their own right since launching a couple of years ago, so why decide to give them away now?

Apple certainly aren’t short of $’s in the bank so it seems a good move to make (what in their words is) the most tablet popular productivity suite available for free with the hope that users will be tempted from waiting for Microsoft’s Office suite to be released for the Windows 8 based tablets.

iWork_Free_1It certainly looks like Microsoft are pinning their hopes on the familiarity of Office being the killer app for their Surface devices thereby providing them the kick start needed to take off and compete with Apple and Samsung in the tablet space as well as to supposedly get traction in the business area with better integration with enterprise systems.

When Apple start to have iWork deployed to all iPads sold with iOS 7 they’ll have the opportunity of getting these applications in front of millions of users who likely have never tried anything other than Office. Apple can then demonstrate how good these apps are on iOS and from there temp people to try them on a nice shiny new Mac.

Of course making iWork available through iCloud along with existing online document storage features can only improve the overall experience and further draw the user into the Apple ecosystem.

It’s often quoted that Apple are a hardware company and not about software, and this sort of strategy would seem to support that. The software side of things is about drawing the customer into the whole Apple experience and to purchase multiple (high profit margin) devices. And with Apple’s cloud services set to be expanding further with iWork and iRadio it makes sense to demonstrate further added value by making the rest of Apple’s iOS offerings available for free.

More iWork users = more Mac and iOS device buyers while at the same time the added benefit of undermining Microsoft’s tablet adoption supported by Office.

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