Opinion: What is really driving Apple’s new-found fondness for ‘free’?

Photo: abc.e

Photo: abc.e

Apple surprised many yesterday by making the update to OS X 10.9 Mavericks free, rather than the $20 it cost to upgrade to the previous release, Mountain Lion. The company also surprised some (though not us) by doing the same for its previously chargeable iWork apps.

There’s been a lot of commentary today about this being an attack on Microsoft, and I do indeed think there’s likely to have been a fair amount of sweating in the corner offices at Redmond as they watched yesterday’s keynote. But Microsoft execs aren’t the only ones I’d expect to see wearing worried expressions today: I suspect the same is true across at Mountain View.

Before we get to Google, let’s start with Microsoft …  Read more

New iOS iWork & iLife icons/features appear on Apple’s website, GarageBand going free with in-app-purchases

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On the ‘Built-in Apps’ page in the iPhone 5s and 5c section of Apple’s website, although the actual app screenshots look the same, Apple is using new (flatter) iOS icons for the iLife and iWork suites designed to match the style of iOS 7. The iPhoto and GarageBand icons are identical to the ones that were leaked last week in the iCloud Storage preferences.

However, this is the first time the new iOS 7 style iMovie, Pages, Numbers and Keynote icons have been seen. Although iMovie looks relatively similar to its skeuomorphic counterpart, the other icons look drastically different featuring bright gradients and white icon glyphs.

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Tune in Oct. 22 for new iPads, Mac Pro details, MacBook Pros, and Mavericks

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Apple’s next event is upon us, and it’s likely to be action-packed. As Apple says: it has “a lot to cover.” So besides the speculation that rings in from the word cover (new Smart Covers, anyone?), Apple has some new tablets, computers, and software to discuss. Read our full roundup of what to expect (and not expect) on Tuesday, October 22nd, from Apple:

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Apple crediting eligible iOS users who paid for iWork, iLife after September 1st

 

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During Apple’s September event, the Tim Cook announced that all new iOS devices purchased after September 1st would be given the option to get iWork and most iLife apps for free. Some users who had purchased iOS devices after the first of the month, however, had already paid for those apps prior to the announcement, or paid for them after the announcement due to confusion about how to claim the free versions.

Today Apple began sending out emails to eligible users who paid for the apps informing them that their iTunes accounts would be credited for the software they should have gotten for free. The amount listed in the tips we’ve received varies from customer to customer, so it appears the credits are only for the apps that were paid for, not the total price of all five apps.

The refund can be claimed via an iTunes Store redeem code included in the email. You can read the full message from Apple below.

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Roundtable: What we think Apple has planned for its September 10th event

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With the rumored September 10th Apple keynote just weeks away, the rumor mill is in high gear and, as per usual, expectations will be soaring higher than ever as the date nears. For some products, a refresh or introduction is all but confirmed. For others, there only exists speculation or mere wishful thinking for even a mention at the keynote. Below you’ll find the opinions of some 9to5Mac staffers. Read more

LA Unified School District will give each of its 640,000 students iPads by the end of next year

Previously, we covered Apple’s announcement that it had won a large contract to supply iPads to LA Unified School District. The program will equip students across the nation’s second biggest school district with iPads that include the Pearson Common Core System of Courses delivered via a new app as part of the integrated solution. Additionally, each iPad will come preloaded with Apple’s iWork (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) and iLife (iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand) suites in addition to a range of educational third-party apps. Apple noted that the $30 million commitment is only the first phase of a larger roll out for Los Angeles schools.

In a new report today, we see how big that buy really is.

The first 31,000 iPads are only the initial phase of the program, which plans to buy and distribute iPads to all 640,000 students in the nation’s second-largest school district by late 2014, Mark Hovatter, the chief facilities executive for the LAUSD, told CITEworld.

“The most important thing is to try to prepare the kids for the technology they are going to face when they are going to graduate,” said Hovatter. “This is phase one, a mix of high school, middle school, and elementary students. We’re targeting kids who most likely don’t have their own computers or laptops or iPads. Their only exposure to computers now is going to be in their schools.”

That’s a huge number to add to Apple’s iPad numbers over the next year. As it stands, if Apple reaped $400 of revenue from each iPad, it would receive $256M for the deal. More importantly, it lays the groundwork for other school districts that may want to emulate this adoption.

Best of all, it exposes a massive amount of children to Apple’s technology that might not already have access to it.

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Non-developers receiving iWork for iCloud invites

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While the iWork for iCloud beta has been available for developers and those who logged in with the current beta software for about a month now, it looks like Apple has begun inviting non-developers to the online document editing program. Tipsters have sent us in emails from the company asking them to try out the services and send in feedback.

We’d like to invite you to be one of the first to try it, so we’re giving you early access to the iWork for iCloud beta. All you have to do is sign in to iCloud on a Mac or a PC using the current version of Safari, Chrome or Internet Explorer. Then just click on Pages, Numbers, or Keynote and you’re off.

Users that have received the invitation don’t need to visit beta.icloud.com – they can just use the regular icloud.com address.

Back in June, we posted a video review of iWork for iCloud: Read more

iWork, iLife appear in iOS 7 free downloads screen, corroborates Apple apps going free theory

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We reported previously on the possibility of Apple making its iWork suite, and possibly its other premium content creation apps, available for free alongside iOS 7 and the launch of new iWork for iCloud web apps. It would make a lot of sense given it’s hard to imagine Apple allowing users to create documents for free on iCloud but not seamlessly transfer from iOS to Mac without having to throw down $30 for the three iOS apps. Today we get a little hint from the latest iOS 7 beta that Apple might actually be considering making the apps free this fall (via @nielskorte & iFun).

The screenshot above shows the screen that Apple presents most users with when launching the App Store on their iOS device for the first time. Curiously, on iOS 7 beta 3, the recommended free apps screen includes Apple’s iWork suite in addition to other paid apps such as Garageband, iMovie, and iPhoto. In the past, Apple has only included free apps in the pop up such as iBooks, iTunes U, and Podcasts. This could signal Apple has plans to offer its premium apps for free in the future…

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Does iWork for iCloud mean native iWork Mac and iOS apps will become free services?

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Apple presents itself as a company that ships hardware, software, and services that integrate together elegantly. While Apple makes the majority of its money from its hardware, Apple makes use of its free, popular internet services and software to sell their hardware. For example, the iLife suite of Mac apps that are included for free with new Mac purchases is a common reason that people choose to buy a Mac. On the iOS side, Apple offers free services like iCloud, iBooks, iMessage, Game Center, and later this year, iTunes Radio.

But on both the Mac and iOS Device side, one particular Apple service has stuck out as being a paid offering: Apple’s iWork suite that includes the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet maker, and Keynote presentation creator. For years, Apple has sold iWork for Mac as a bundled suite, but with the Mac App Store, the company split the three programs into separate $19.99 downloads. On the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch side, the three apps are distinct $9.99 downloads. Apple, thus far, has kept iWork as a premium priced suite, but this fall, the company will introduce a free tier: iWork for iCloud…

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Apple announces iWork for iCloud, new apps for Mac and iOS coming later this year

Confirming our earlier suspicions, Apple today showed off some new features for its iWork suite of apps, which includes both Mac and iOS versions of the Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps. While Apple confirmed that new versions of the apps for Mac and iOS would be coming later in the year, it spent its presentation today showing off brand new web versions of the apps designed to run right in the browser through iCloud.com. The new web apps, available initially only to developers starting today, will be dubbed ‘iWork for iCloud’ and bring web apps to iCloud that will compete directly with Google Docs and Google’s other suite of web apps.

Apple execs spent much of the time on stage showing off the new Pages for iCloud app, demoing how users can drag and drop Microsoft Word files and other documents directly into the iCloud.com UI in their browser to begin editing a document. Apple also briefly demoed presentations and spreadsheets running in web versions of the Numbers and Keynote apps.

During the demo of the new iWork for iCloud apps, Apple also made a point of noting that the new apps run in any browser by showing off the apps running on Windows 8.

The new apps are available as developer beta starting today. A public beta of the new iWork for iCloud apps will be arriving later this year. Apple didn’t mention any details regarding pricing, or whether or not the web apps will be a separate purchase from the apps currently available on Mac and iOS.