According to some rumors today, Apple might be working on an online version of its iWork productivity suite. 9to5Mac reports that they have received information about this from credible sources, though as with all Apple rumors around this time of year, it is hard to discern truth from wishful thinking. However, given that online office suites are clearly an up-and-coming market, with Microsoft poised to join the fray early next year, it would make sense for Apple to be heading in this direction as well.

One of the interesting questions that 9to5Mac asks is if this will work on the iPhone and iPod touch. However, while we would be excited to see this (maybe with the addition of a native copy and paste implementation), it’s hard to imagine somebody using productivity applications extensively on the iPhone. Being able to quickly retrieve and view documents and presentations on those devices, however, would be a great feature.

If Apple is really working on this, then we expect them to release it through a similar annual subscription model as Mobile Me. Chances are that Apple will also use the same SproutCore JavaScript framework it used for MobileMe. When Apple first discussed SproutCore, some already assumed that the natural next step for Apple would be a productivity app built around this framework.

Will the MobileMe Disaster Repeat Itself?

Given what a disaster the release of Apple’s Mobile Me online email and calendaring applications was, we can only hope that Apple, if it really decides to go this route, will have learned from that experience.

A Taste of the Cloud iWork: 280 Slides

If you want a taste of what these online apps could look like, have a look at 280slides, a Keynote-like online presentation app that was developed by two former Apple engineers.