updated 10:20 am EST, Fri January 27, 2006
iWorks, MS Office, Corel
The recent fuss and conclusions over iWork's sales numbers is just a distortion of sales data, according to one analyst. While iWork's US retail sales may have surged in 2005--in part due to sales cycles--the recently reported data doesn't paint an accurate picture on the overall sales of the the "office" productivty suites. Countering a recent CNET News.com article suggesting that sales of Apple's iWork is second only to Microsoft Office, Joe Wilcox of Jupiter Research says that the iWork sales numbers represent a small fraction of the overall market and are disproportionately larger than other suites because of the products' sale cycles and because the numbers only reflect a single channel of distribution: US retail sales, a fractional part of both Corel WP and Microsoft Office sales.
"The story also fails to account for sales cycles. Retail software sales tend to be strongest the first couple months following a new release, declining thereafter. Corel launched WordPerfect Office 12 in April 2004. Additionally, vendors tend to reduce retail shipments of software ahead of the release of a new version, so as not to have too much inventory in the channel. New WordPerfect version X3 launched last week. It's reasonable that Corel started reducing channel inventory in the last quarter ahead of the new product's launch."
NPD numbers reported by CNET News.com, showed that in the US retail market alone, Apple grabbed a 2.7 percent unit share, while Corel had a 1.6 percent share: Microsoft maintained its dominance with nearly 95 percent of unit sales. The report did not cite any historical data for comparison.
However, Corel says that WordPerfect sales numbers dramatically increase when a larger variety of sales channels are considered, as the NPD data excludes OEM and direct sales. iWork is a distant third behind WordPerfect, according to an AppleInsider report published on Thursday.
"NPD shows that iWork sold around 50,000 units at retail last year. Corel sold that many [copies of WordPerfect] to one account in the Department of Justice," Richard Carriere, general manager of office productivity for Corel, told AppleInsider. "Looking at brick and mortar retail as a metric or indicator of a trend is incomplete and misleading."
Wilcox also maintains that comparing Apple's iWork to MS Office or Corel WordPerfect is "an apples-to-oranges comparison" at best.
"Contrary to CNET News.com's position, iWork isn't an Office suite. It's even a stretch to call the software, which contains two programs, a 'Works' package on par with Microsoft Works. Any iWork comparison to Microsoft Office or WordPerfect Office is an apples-to-oranges comparison, at best," Wilcox said.
In addition, placing iWork in the same league as MS Office is illogical, says Wilcox most consumers use Office on their home PCs--a market which Apple claims only about five percent of the overall market. Furthermore, JupiterResearch surveys show that more than 60 percent of consumers, the majority with Windows, run Office on their primary home PCs. Furthermore, among businesses, Office usage tops 90 percent, suggesting the overwhelming dominance of Office.
"Assuming that Windows is on 95 percent of PCs and Mac OS on another 5 percent, the iWork numbers don't add up. Even if every Mac user in that presumed 5 percent bought iWork, Office's dominance on that other 95 percent would easily eclipse the upstart [iWork product]," Wilcox remarked.
At Macworld San Francisco earlier this month, Apple upgraded iWork '06 with updated versions of Keynote and Pages. A 30-day trial is bundled with all new Macs. The product is now shipping from the Apple Store and retailers such as Amazon.