Apple spreadsheet application in the works?

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 87
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 87
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 87
    nathan22tnathan22t Posts: 317member
    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"
  • Reply 4 of 87
    kenaustuskenaustus Posts: 911member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 87
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 87
    addisonaddison Posts: 1,185member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 87
    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
  • Reply 8 of 87
    scotty321scotty321 Posts: 313member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 87
    spudspud Posts: 25member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 87
    boogabooga Posts: 1,080member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 87
    macslutmacslut Posts: 514member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 87
    chris cuillachris cuilla Posts: 4,825member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 87
    Uh.. "forthcoming" graphing application?



    /Applications/Utilties/Grapher.app
  • Reply 14 of 87
    feraliferali Posts: 173member
    i think 'cells' would we way cooler than 'numbers'
  • Reply 15 of 87
    mr. dirkmr. dirk Posts: 187member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 87
    kasperkasper Posts: 941member, administrator
    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.



    Best,



    K
  • Reply 17 of 87
    voxappsvoxapps Posts: 236member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 87
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 87
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 87
    boogabooga Posts: 1,080member
    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.)
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