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Apple spreadsheet application in the works?

post #1 of 88
Thread Starter 
Rumors that Apple Computer has been quietly developing its own spreadsheet solution gained a dab of credibility this week as sources pointed to a revealing company filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Just two days after requesting a trademark on the word 'Mactel,' which seemingly describes the convergence of Macintosh design with Intel hardware, Apple on June 8th filed for a standard character mark on the word 'Numbers.'

Described only vaguely by the filing as "computer software," Numbers may pertain to Apple's recently released graphing calculator application. However, the company in recent months has filed for other marks that more accurately describe that application, such as "Graphulator" and "Grapher" -- that latter of which is used in the shipping version.

Instead, Numbers appears to conform nicely to the naming scheme used by Apple to describe the components of its relatively new iWork productivity suite. Consisting of only two applications, the iWork bundle includes presentation software called 'Keynote' and a word processor dubbed 'Pages.'

After an initially modest start, iWork sales reportedly flat-lined by April, driving Apple to include a 30-day free trial of the software with each retail copy of its new Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" operating system. To date the company claims to have shipped over 2 million copies of Tiger.

Still, Mac users aren't adopting iWork in large numbers; partly because it lacks components like a spreadsheet application, but more so because Microsoft Office has established itself as an industry standard for home and office productivity.

According to sources close to Apple's retail operations, the average Apple store only sells a handful of iWork copies each week, if that. Meanwhile, contacts at larger mail-order catalogs have used words such as "awful" and "horrible" to describe sales of the software suite. Instead, sources say the first question to roll off the tongue of most prospective Mac buyers is: "Will Microsoft Office run on my new Mac?"

If Numbers does pertain to the rumored Apple spreadsheet application, is Apple hoping it will save iWork? A better question may be whether the company planned to include a spreadsheet application in the initial version of iWork, but somehow fell short.

According to the filing, the Numbers trademark carries a priority date of January 4th, 2005. This likely means that a division of Apple outside the United States filed for the mark a mere seven days before iWork was introduced at this year's Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

However, sources once close to Apple say development of the spreadsheet application began at the company's Pittsburgh, Penn.-based offices early this year -- the same location where both Keynote and Pages are rumored to have originated.

Sources, however, could not confirm an intended name for the application.
post #2 of 88
Look, I don't really give a flying fig about what they are calling certain bits and pieces. I just want AppleWorks 7 or AppleWorks X or whatever the hell they want to call an OS X version of the venerable AppleWorks.

For crying out loud, Pages doesn't have the mail merge function that the AW WP tool does and it is not nearly as AppleScriptable. Not exactly an auspicious beginning for updating that wonderful app.
post #3 of 88
Apple is making a serious mistake here. Why waste the time on this? The ONLY alternative to MS Office is OpenOffice. Apple should get behind this project and make a native version of it. Support for the Open Office Document format is vital.
post #4 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by macFanDave
Look, I don't really give a flying fig about what they are calling certain bits and pieces. I just want AppleWorks 7 or AppleWorks X or whatever the hell they want to call an OS X version of the venerable AppleWorks.

For crying out loud, Pages doesn't have the mail merge function that the AW WP tool does and it is not nearly as AppleScriptable. Not exactly an auspicious beginning for updating that wonderful app.

"building a successor to appleworks" != "is a successor to appleworks"
post #5 of 88
iWork does need some work. Pages is fine for me most of the time and I don't use Keynote. The need for a spreadsheet has been obvious since iWork was announced and I see that as the next enhancement, followed by a junior version of FileMaker to take care of basic DB needs.

Hopefully Apple will pull this all together soon and release a major update in January. As long as I can keep getting my edu discount I'll upgrade.
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post #6 of 88
Pages is not a competitor of Office, any more than Garage Band is a competitor of Logic Pro.

There's room in the world for apps that are very easy to use and make it simple to produce great-looking results for NON heavy-duty large-scale purposes.

Many, many people would be better served by Office than by Pages. They need the feature list, not the ease of use and slick templates.

Yet many, many people would be better served by Pages than by Office. I fear most of them have no idea that there even IS an alternative to Office, though.
post #7 of 88
I haven't tried Keynote, but Pages is as far as I am concerned work in progress. As you say there is no support for mail-merge and does not support drop cap either. Worst still, and I can hardly believe it's an Apple application, is just isn't intuitive. Whenever I use Pages I have to keep searching or trying to find out how to do something it is a most un-Apple like application. However, I quite like it - there's a paradox, but NOT enough to buy it! When it is more mature I will put my hand in my pocket. Apple missed a trick they should have sold a Tiger+ bundle that included iLife and iWork. There revenue would have been a lot higher as it is I have bought three copies of Tiger and neither of the other two.
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post #8 of 88
iWork is a cool program and all, but it seems like Apple would have been better served by going with something like Open Office (an open source project)...kind of like what they did with Safari.

Just my $0.02
post #9 of 88
Well, of course, adding a spreadsheet program to iWork is a primary component in making the software sell.

But more importantly, if Apple wants to push copies of iWork, they need to make it a "must have bundle of software".

They can do this by adding one of the following two programs to iWork:

1. A very easy-to-use web publishing & HTML creation program, like Microsoft's FrontPage (but much easier).

2. A podcasting creation program, although this is probably better suited for iLife instead of iWork.

In any case, they need to come up with one "killer app" that will get people to buy iWork... and once people are using iWork, then they will start using Pages & Numbers.

From what I hear, Pages is absolutely amazing when it comes to making newsletters & brochures... even though it's not really ready as a full-time word processor yet.
post #10 of 88
Please let it be true.
MS Word and Excel are buggy, ugly, feature-rich and powerful programs.
Nonetheless, I've opened Word once since Pages came out.
The truth is I don't' need all those features that Word has, and most of the time they annoy me more than help me. I gladly sacrificed the `power' of Word for the elegance of Pages. Even before Pages I used TextEdit for everything I could (no page numbers, no tables, that's all I missed).

Admittedly, a spreadsheet app is harder to do in the same way. Excel's macros are a big part of what makes it useful (though not that big). Maybe Apple's planning something like Automator for spreadsheet scripting?
Anyway, 80% of spreadsheets created don't even use a formula, while 95% don't use macros. Most Excel users wouldn't know the first thing about a writing in RealBasic (or whatever *basic it uses), and have never even considered it.

Whichever previous poster pointed out the difference between Pages and Word being like that between Garageband and Logic Pro made an excellent point. Apple's not targeting the industry-scale pro users with iWork, they're aiming more for the folks that don't want to have to learn to use a chainsaw to slice their toast in the morning. If I ever need mail merging, text-document database access, etc., I'll turn to MS Office or OpenOffice. Until then, I'll be happy with iWork+Numbers.
post #11 of 88
Pittsburgh offices? I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't have an office here in Pittsburgh, PA. If they do, they have never gotten involved in Pittsburgh Geek Night, Pittsburgh Technology Council, or otherwise participated in the Pittsburgh hi-tech community. I'm pretty sure the only Apple facility here is the Apple Store in Shadyside. Maybe they have a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon or something?

I think the disappointing sales are a direct result of the quality of the product. Pages was really fun to use a couple times, but not very useful. And Keynote, while powerful, doesn't hold your hand like PowerPoint, and thus turns off many of the prime target audience for such an app. If Pages re-discovered some of the basic usability lessons from MacWrite and Microsoft Word 1.0, maybe it would catch on a little better; and if Keynote had a decent Wizard and better templates, maybe it would be more comfortable for its target market. Adding a spreadsheet isn't going to change sales.

As for OpenOffice, I vehemently disagree. While iWork tries to be an innovative product that takes advantage of all the benefits MacOS has to offer, any port of OpenOffice would just be a rehashed MS Office. I don't see any area where they're innovating... they're just re-implementing, and it's old news. No reason to ever use OpenOffice except as a cheap MS Office rip-off.
post #12 of 88
I hate metoo-ing, but really, Apple is blowing it (blew it) by not going with OpenOffice.

'Every Mac comes with the OS X native version of OpenOffice, the free cross-platform alternative to MS Office' - that's pretty powerful.

Quote:
As for OpenOffice, I vehemently disagree. While iWork tries to be an innovative product that takes advantage of all the benefits MacOS has to offer, any port of OpenOffice would just be a rehashed MS Office. I don't see any area where they're innovating... they're just re-implementing, and it's old news. No reason to ever use OpenOffice except as a cheap MS Office rip-off.

That's like comparing Safari to Explorer. A native version of OpenOffice could implement all of the services of OS X....and it's free. Apple could also had any component it chooses on top of OpenOffice, and contribute to the overall development.

Think of it this way...if you had a PC with Office and you wanted to switch to a Mac, you need to pay for the Mac, and the cost of Office or iWork. MS Office is expensive. iWork while not expensive is still extra money, not feature complete, and requires a substantial investment in time to relearn how to do tasks that one might already know in MS Office.

OpenOffice is complete, free, and *very* easy to switch to. It's already 99% compatible.

Apple would sell more Macs this way. Apple could sell more iLife/OS X upgrades this way depending on bundling.

If Apple wants to sell more software, they could add things on top of OpenOffice. The Pages app is a great example of this. Make it a compelling addition as a page-layout app with tons of templates that you sell as an add-on to OpenOffice.
post #13 of 88
1. Pages is a 1.0 product...and not bad for that. They needed to get the product out in the wild and see how it goes. If they waited until it was "perfect"...we'd never see it.

2. I think Pages is probably 70-80% consumer, 20-30% pro. This ratio may change as the product grows and improves.

3. Numbers (if this is the spreadsheet) is important. It would bring iWork much closer to being an AppleWorks replacement.

4. Mail merge (from Address Book, of course) is needed.

5. A database? Maybe. I wonder what people (at the more consumer end) use the AW DB for? Mail merge primarily? Address Book handles that.

6. I think Keynote is great.

One of the more interesting tid bits from this item was where development was taking place...Pittsburgh, PA.
post #14 of 88
Uh.. "forthcoming" graphing application?

/Applications/Utilties/Grapher.app
post #15 of 88
i think 'cells' would we way cooler than 'numbers'
post #16 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by AppleInsider
Described only vaguely by the filing as "computer software," Numbers may pertain to Apple's forthcoming graphing calculator application. However, the company in recent months has filed for other marks that more accurately describe that application, such as "Graphulator" and "Grapher."

Why "forthcoming?" "Grapher" has been in my Utilities folder since I installed 10.4.

As to the Word/Open Office/iWork debate, while I would like to see a native version of Open Office, Keynote has been the most intuitive presentation application that I've ever used. Pages, though, does lack a few of the features that I've come to need in Word.
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post #17 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Booga
Pittsburgh offices? I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't have an office here in Pittsburgh, PA.

They do -- on Murray Ave.

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K
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post #18 of 88
A new spreadsheet might be fine for the student, home, and "individual contributor" business market. But if Apple really wants to court the corporate market, what they really need is an Office-like product with *full* compatibility with the Exchange server functions of Outlook. Right now, Macs can barely communicate in a corporate Exchange environment: scheduling meetings, conference rooms and resources; checking other employees' calendars, etc. In spite of its considerable weaknesses, Exchange/Outlook is critical to many - if not most - larger businesses.

Yet another spreadsheet would be OK, but no corporation using Exchange to run their employees' calendars would trade Office for a new software package that doesn't support Outlook's current capabilities.
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post #19 of 88
CoreData is now out in the wild as well. To be overly basic (having never used one either), adding database capabilities to iWork would be as "simple" as copying the view that displays the CoreData model in Xcode to a new application. And we all know that Interface Builder can build a basic interface from the CoreData model on the fly, which reminds me very much of the old Claris DB workings.

And how CoreData could simplify building a spreadsheet app has already been well discussed on these boards.
post #20 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Voxapps
...

Yet another spreadsheet would be OK, but no corporation using Exchange to run their employees' calendars would trade Office for a new software package that doesn't support Outlook's current capabilities.

If you get access to Live Directory, the suite of Mail, iCal, and Address Book will do this now--in a fashion. By this, I mean that it works as well as Microsoft's own Entourage 2004.
post #21 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Kasper
They do -- on Murray Ave.

Best,

K

No kidding. That's a 10 minute drive from my house, and I drive through there semi-regularly... never seen a sign or any obvious presence there. I'll have to check it out. (Murray is the retail "main street" for Squirrell Hill, one of the areas surrounding Carnegie Mellon University's campus.)
post #22 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by macslut
A native version of OpenOffice could implement all of the services of OS X....and it's free. Apple could also had any component it chooses on top of OpenOffice, and contribute to the overall development.

A native MacOS X OpenOffice is not free... it doesn't exist. And it would cost money to develop and maintain. In exchange, you would get a product for which you couldn't recoup the costs and would be deleted by any serious office worker and replaced with MSOffice.

Apple's biggest advantage over all other non-Windows competitors in the workplace is that MSOffice runs on it. It's the only UNIX-like OS that also runs MSOffice. Anything that detracts from that message loses sales, not gains them, IMHO.

Apple should devote resources to innovation, not to re-creating already existing functionality in Microsoft office products.
post #23 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Mr. Me
If you get access to Live Directory, the suite of Mail, iCal, and Address Book will do this now--in a fashion. By this, I mean that it works as well as Microsoft's own Entourage 2004.

You're right, but "in a fashion" is unacceptable. Here's an example:

You work in a business that uses Exchange for calendaring via Outlook. Someone you need to meet says "Just schedule some time on my calendar, invite these 4 other people, and get a conference room." On a PC, no problem. On my Mac, well... I can't see their calendars; or they can't see mine. I can't schedule a conference room. I can't pull up 5 people's calendars and have Outlook pick the best time for a meeting. I can't get to the list of who's confirmed attendance at the meeting, who's "tentative," and who hasn't replied at all. Or I can't reply to a meeting invitation sent by someone else.

Bottom line, I have to use a PC for this functionality, which makes putting a Mac into this environment pretty unlikely, unless I have the budget for both a Mac and a PC per employee.

Microsoft Office isn't the monolithic software package in corporations because of Word or Excel, it's because there's no cross-platform substitute for Outlook/Exchange with equivalent functionality.
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post #24 of 88
Apple needs to pick its battles and this is the wrong one. Keynots is cool. and why not sell it since they already made it for Steve.

But spending R&D money on a productivity suite is a waste.

Instead they should use the cash to bundle Office on every Mac. That would be a big incentive for people to Switch. Many I have talked to don't Switch just because they would need to buy a new Office Suite. And as we know Office is pricey.

I bet if Apple agreed to bundle a Lite Office with the consumer products and the full version with Pro products it would help Mac sales. It would also make the beaste happy and keeping M$ happy is something Apple needs to do. Its just not big enought to do without M$.

Oh and M$ would care less if people switch to Macs from Windows if every Mac comes with M$ Office.
post #25 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by macslut
I hate metoo-ing, but really, Apple is blowing it (blew it) by not going with OpenOffice.

'Every Mac comes with the OS X native version of OpenOffice, the free cross-platform alternative to MS Office' - that's pretty powerful.

I think Apple is playing it right here. If Apple were to just blatently come out with an OpenOffice clone, they might as well just kiss MS Office good-bye. If it were successful enough (much less free as you suggest), then the official MS office would be history. I don't think that would be in Apple's best interest.

Apple is billing iWork as a replacement for Appleworks. I kind of see this as a sheep in wolf's clothing. At this point, Keynote 2 is considered better by many than Powerpoint, even though Powerpoint has improved significantly with the Office 2004 bundle. It's hard to image Keynote falling behind here. Pages is a work in progress, but it's not just another bland word processor. The whole template and dropzone concept is actually a very good idea. I'd agree that Apple needs to beef up Pages to handle many of the more common features, but still, it's a good start. The original Keyonte was also promising, but not quite up to Powerpoint standards. It didn't take long for Apple to catch up and surpass.

I have no doubt Numbers is a spreadsheet. It's an obvious omission for any productivity suite. If Apple were to go with OpenOffice that would be a nice start, but not what I'd expect from Apple. What are the advantages of OpenOffice? Is it better than MS Office? No. It's not from Microsoft and the price is right. My expectations of an Apple product are different. It should be elegantly designed yet feel like common sense when you use it. Ease of use is important. If Apple can't do something original or push the concepts further than the competition then they shouldn't even bother at all. With Keynote, Apple provided great templates along with really slick transitions. For presentation software, these are big issues. For Pages, Apple included cool templates and drop zones, etc. I expect similar innovations with Numbers, etc. I don't want yet another Office clone, (unless of course, MS drops Mac support).

Steve
post #26 of 88
OK I make my point now - which hasn't been picked up in this thread..

That is Keynote which is currently 2.0.2. is an outstanding application. Takes 1 hour to work out how to make STAND OUT presentations. And gives conference audiences a break from the usual PowerPoint (yawn!) trite.

I haven't used Pages 1.0.2 - But I expect that it should be similarly tuned to making well designed stuff intuitively (or if not will be sorted soon)....

So I would say that these things don't have to compete with M$ Office, or Open Office (native would be nice here sure!).

They could, with Numbers, provide an alternative to liven some up some of those dull buisness days...!..

(note that you simply export what you've created back to the nominal Office app. format.. as conventionality requires...)


p.s. OK this was written during the posting of last message
post #27 of 88
It's about time. There are a lot of us waiting for the spreadsheet before purchasing iWork.

Hopefully, iWork '06 will debut in the late fall. Why delay till MWSF if we all know it's coming. If it can be ready, announce it now and ship it in October so they can catch a bit of the academic year as well.
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post #28 of 88
Pages sucks, unless you write one page family newsletters once a month.

Keynote is top dawg.

How can the two be so hit and miss? I know how, Apple spent all their time designing templates for mommy and daddy to send to their parents and forgot about what a word processor is supposed to do. Keynote rocks because that is what SJ himself uses in front of business people.

Without a serious MS Word equivalent, I just can't see an "Excel like" product doing well.
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post #29 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by aplnub
Pages sucks, unless you write one page family newsletters once a month.

Keynote is top dawg.

How can the two be so hit and miss?

The original Keynote showed promise, but it wasn't better than Powerpoint. Yes, some of it's key features were great, but it lacked the capability of some of the basics. When you think about it, nearly the same is true with Pages so far. It shows promise, has some innovations, but is missing some of the basics.

How can the two be so hit or miss you ask? If you consider the time in development for both of these applications, that should answer your own question. I think it's important to showcase some breakthrough features first, then add the more mundane features later as the application has time to mature.

Steve
post #30 of 88
Ok... I was wrong about Pittsburgh, I guess:

http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/jobs/PA/Pit...ture/J724217GW
post #31 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by another_steve
I think it's important to showcase some breakthrough features first, then add the more mundane features later as the application has time to mature.

Steve

I would hit the basics and then do the eye candy but that is me.
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post #32 of 88
Lotus Improv for NeXt best spreadsheet ever. Product was built in Cocoa. Apple should buy/update this from Lotus/IBM.
post #33 of 88
Haven't had the luxury to use Pages yet, but I totally agree that some updates are in order for it to be a viable product.
post #34 of 88
I always thought Apple was going to create these applications and make them usable over the internet. Attach it to a .mac account and then for $99 a year you have email, storage, and applications without having to shell out the money. Great for switching between OS types going from your dorm room or work to computer lab or home. Even on the road or an internet cafe.

You then offer a downloadable version that people can use when you are not connected to the internet (or have dial-up) and there you go. I was thinking Apple was going to do this way back when they started to charge for .mac accounts. I do not know if it would be something for everyone, but it would have probably led to me keeping my account.

Just my less then two cents.
post #35 of 88
People, people. Pages? Version 1.0. Keynote? Version 2.0.

Word? Version 2004.00. PowerPoint? Version 2004.00.

I don't doubt Pages or some offspin (Pages Pro?) will gain real corporate office power by version 3.0. (RendezVo...Bonjour collaboration tools similar to SubEthaEdit would make Pages very powerful. Have iChat open videoconferencing with 3 other coworkers simultaneously working on a single document.)

What Apple needs to do is bundle this stuff. If people still want to buy Office or shareware alternatives...let them. But instead of charging for something, let the users get it free.

Macs should be able to handle Word, Excel and PowerPoint files right out of the box. That will make people switch. And bundling Office is not the way...since Apple has no control over what MS will put out or even if they will continue to put out.
post #36 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by another_steve
I think Apple is playing it right here. If Apple were to just blatently come out with an OpenOffice clone, they might as well just kiss MS Office good-bye.

As opposed to simply allowing Redmond to snicker at their largely futile iWork efforts? If Apple wants to offer an "in-house" office suite that's in any way comparable to MS Office, then their best hope would be to hook up w/ the Open Office community to help create a version that is properly integrated into OS X. If it became ubiquitous (iLifelike) on every new Mac sold they would have an incredibly compelling value package to offer consumers debating the relative merits of Macs and PCs.
post #37 of 88
I actually bought iWorks when it came out. I don't use it. I even regret buying it. I'm a student and no matter how I like it my school expects assignments in Microsoft Word format. I usually e-mail them in.

Thank God for Microsoft Office 2004 on the Mac. It is a great program. The Mac Business Unit has done a wonderful job.
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post #38 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by Booga
Ok... I was wrong about Pittsburgh, I guess:

http://hotjobs.yahoo.com/jobs/PA/Pit...ture/J724217GW

It's above the Starbucks.

-K
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post #39 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by SorcerersApprentice
Lotus Improv for NeXt best spreadsheet ever. Product was built in Cocoa. Apple should buy/update this from Lotus/IBM.

A small scale hobby project trying to recreate the functionality can be found here:

http://www.materialarts.com/FlexiSheet/Basics.html

While very powerful for certain classic spreadsheet use most of what I do in Excel would not benefit at all from this approach.
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post #40 of 88
Quote:
Originally posted by another_steve
I think Apple is playing it right here. If Apple were to just blatently come out with an OpenOffice clone, they might as well just kiss MS Office good-bye. If it were successful enough (much less free as you suggest), then the official MS office would be history. I don't think that would be in Apple's best interest.

Exactly... look what happened to Internet Explorer on the Mac once Apple came out with Safari. Microsoft announced tha all future development of Mac IE would cease. Clearly shows that Microsoft is willing to abandon Mac development if Apple gets directly in their way. Pages, however, seems more to me like a replacement for the old Print Shop programs than a full-featured word processing app like Word.
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