Where’s Apple iWork’s spreadsheet?

“Let us speculate that Microsoft’s recent decision to formally promise to support Office for the Mac for at least the next five years is not an example of Bill Gates’ altruism,” Garry Barker reports for The Sydney Morning Herald. “Rather, some suppose, it was a device to slow further development of iWork, Apple’s new word processor and presentation suite. This may be totally unfair to Microsoft, and as a long-time user of Office:mac I have to say I find it an excellent suite, worth the money and I would like support for it to continue. On the other hand, some mild surprise was expressed in the more geek-strewn corners at Macworld Expo last month when iWork ’06 appeared without the third component some had expected, a spreadsheet. Rumours, and they are nothing more, suggest that Apple is working on an Excel competitor with a codename of either Cells or Numbers.”

“As we expect from Apple software, iWork ’06 is stylish and stronger than Office in its ability to manage graphics, type and layout… in its second incarnation, Pages can provide pretty much anything average users of a word processor might require, as well as a lot of layout stuff, some of which you might be able to do in Word, but the achieving of which would turn you into a mental pretzel. The package contains 40-odd handsome templates to produce professional-looking, modern or traditional newsletters, flyers and even, I would think, a small magazine,” Barker writes. “Keynote, now in its third version, is a full generation ahead of PowerPoint with many more effects such as the pretty water droplet transition you see in Dashboard and a heap of themes (I detect the influence of iDVD here). Like Pages 2, it can be closely integrated with the iLive ’06 suite so that photographs and video clips can be easily added to a presentation.”

Full article here.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Boston Herald: Apple’s iWork ’06 upgrades ‘really sweet’ – January 31, 2006
Apple announces iWork ’06 with 3-D charts, advanced image editing tools & spreadsheet-like tables – January 10, 2006
RUMOR: Apple working on spreadsheet application called ‘Numbers’ for iWork – June 16, 2005
Washington Times: Apple’s iWork should make Microsoft’s Bill Gates a ‘bit uncomfortable’ – January 18, 2005


  1. It ain’t coming guys. I’m sure that 5 year agreement with MS has a provision for Apple not to compete there. Besides I doubt Apple would make any money there

    I gotta believe most users are going to stick with Office. It is the standard and it will be what biz use the most. Yes there will be a few that would use an Apple product but that is likely to be a very small number of users.

  2. I thought that in his macworld keynote Jobs said that iwork 06′ would have a spreadsheet that could do calculations? I guess I misunderstood him. Did he say anything about a spreadsheet?

  3. JEG,
    I’ve been using Keynote for over two years now, and I ain’t going back to PP! I’m still using Keynote 2, and if Keynote 3 is improved, it will blow PP out of the water. PP is so lame!
    As for Pages, all my manuscripts (1000 pages/year) are written in Pages now. It’s just a wonderful layout, no cluttered surface, and style management could not be simpler. If only those MS suckers at ISI would get EndNote ready for Pages, I could dispense with Word completely.
    Luckily, I do not use Excel. For the real stuff, we use GraphPad from Prizm, for simple stuff the spreadsheet app in Keynote is enough.
    Besides, there is NeoOfficeJ if I ever need a spreadsheet app.. It looks absolutely awful, but it’s free and can do all the things Excel is supposed to do.

  4. An example of tight iLife/iWorkintegration:

    iWeb does not support the function of shape masking a photo (other than a rectangle), but Pages does. For example, if you want to put a photo in a star or oval shape. Open a blank page in Pages, make your masked shape, then just copy it and paste it into your iWeb page. Done!

    With all of these aps being so tightly integrated in their functions and usability, it is very easy for anyone to create a professional, unified, customized look to all of their media.

    Apple’s huge distance from Microsoft’s world, in terms of ease of use and quality output, may soon spawn the first real TV commercial that will be the first nail into Microsoft’s coffin.

    It’s NOT the CPU!
    It’s NOT even the OS!
    It all lies in the ease of use of the applications, and the quality of their output.
    The people at Apple know this.

  5. hagar57 – I agree with you completely. Keynote is much better than Powerpoint. It is intuitive where Powerpoint fights with you.

    Pages is a great program, but suffers from lack of outlining and bibliography support (e.g. EndNote, Bookends).

    Excel is, however, a great program. It would be difficult to beat it. Maybe Apple realized that?

  6. Super Tim – Both Pages and Keynote have support for performing simple spreadsheet-like calculations inside tables. When you insert and select a table you just go into the inspector, click Numbers and you can add a formula. There aren’t very many options and it isn’t really a replacement for a true spreadsheet program.

    MDN Magic Word: Office

  7. It would be good for Apple to create a spreadsheet app. They probalby have one, but Steve might not be happy with it yet. It’s hard to create something easy to use that relies on users inputting mathematical formulas.

    I’d rather see Apple abandon the spreadsheet paradigm and jump into a relational database paradigm with the ease of Keynote without looking like Filemaker. They would, of course, hurt Filemaker by doing that, but what does Filemaker have for home users? Nothing cheap.

    I think a database app using CoreData that you can flatten like a speadsheet would be great. Apple could do it, but what would it look like? How would it work exactly? Does Apple have on in-house now? Are they happy with it?

    Making something that is compatible with Excel is not an easy task. Even Excel for Mac is not compatible completely with Excel for Windows. I think Apple is avoiding creating a direct competitor to Excel. I think they are creating something more in the realm of a Filemaker app with a speadsheet-like front end.

    With a database you are more flexible in presentation, you aren’t limited to working with cells. You can reorder layout. You can make relational connections between tables easier with a database. You can present the data in more ways, package it in a stand-alone app, publish it to a web site, do so much more than a spreadsheet. Speadsheets are for raw data, that’s not Apple’s way.

    Apple, make a database app “for the rest of us.”

  8. I don’t believe there’s any conspiracy. I think it’s simple on Apple’s end.

    1) It’s hard to create an Excel killer.

    2) It’s hard to convince people to learn a whole new Office suite.

    3) People will not be happy with 99.999% or less compatibility.

    4) There’s not nearly as much money to be made by Apple *today* from a works package as compared to Mac sales by those who need MS Office.

    Suppose Apple could produce a true MS Office killer. At what point does it grow to where it’s simply not in Microsoft’s interest to continue developing MS Office? They stop, and all who require MS Office (due to specific tech details or because that’s what they know) switch to Windows.

    Likewise, even if MS Office still exists, it hurts Apple to have the Mac experience be one that is evaluated in the press as if going to the Mac means using iWork instead of MS Office. They’re already doing this with Mail.app versus Outlook, even when the reviewers have MS Office installed on the Mac.

    It’s all a lot of pain with very little gain.

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