Offline iMovie and iWork will not be ditched at Macworld

Yesterday, the people over at 9to5mac revealed some information on what they believe to be Apple’s plans to migrate iMovie and iWork over to the internet. This news generated quite a bit of anger on various online forums. Personally, I firmly believe Apple will ditch iMovie or iWork at Macworld 2009. While introducing an online version to part of Apple’s consumer software suites (possibly incorporated into MobileMe) would be a welcome move, halting further development of the “offline” Pages, Keynote, Numbers and iMovie would put Apple in serious danger of being compared to the likes of software giant Microsoft.

There are several reasons why I am almost certain this announcement will not take place at MWSF. Firstly, the internet is still excruciatingly slow and limited for many. Theoretical internet speeds in the United States are pretty good, especially when compared to the abysmal speeds in Australia, but let’s remember, these are maximums and many internet users do not experience anything like it. Furthermore, almost every internet plan has a download and upload limit. This is perhaps the largest problem for the rumored product, especially with an application like iMovie, where it would be nothing more than frustrating to spend hours uploading HD recorded video, only to edit it online, then spend even more time downloading your content again.

I imagine that if Apple were to announce an online-only  iMovie and iWork, such a service would be (as I discussed above) tied in with their push data subscription tools, MobileMe. Yes, it would drive up much needed sales of MobileMe, but it would greatly damage Apple’s reputation. This scheme forces consumers who have paid for Apple’s iWork already to pay again for what is essentially “rental software”. By literally transferring all of Apple’s iWork and iMovie (part of iLife) users to the problematic MobileMe platform, Apple is risking its loyalty and support. 

It should also be noted that Apple’s suite of applications are extremely detailed and already require some skill to master. Despite the advanced interface of MobileMe (mentioned in the preceding paragraph), web apps still need further development before they become a replacement for sophisticated offline applications. Apple’s online service suffered from many glitches that plagued it for weeks, encouraging slow adoption.

What I’ve written in this post is based purely on speculation and what I’ve read on the internet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple announces iWork web apps at Macworld San Francisco 2009. I would be completely shocked if they get rid of their offline counterparts. – r.

The Green Room is providing liveblog coverage of Phil Schiller’s opening keynote at Macworld 2009. For more information, click here.

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