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Apple's iWork suite rumored to go web-based

Apple may build on its success in delivering web-based applications for its .Mac internet service by taking its iWork productivity suite of applications online as early as next week's Macworld Expo.

A new report suggests that the trio of applications — Pages, Keynote, and Numbers — will be reintroduced as web applications, similar to the company's .Mac Web Gallery application that was built using SproutCore.

SproutCore is an open source, platform-independent, Cocoa-inspired JavaScript framework for creating web applications that look and feel like Desktop applications. When combined with HTML5's standard offline data storage technologies, the framework is capable of delivering a first-class user experience with exceptional performance.

During a private session at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference titled "Building Native Look-and-Feel Web Applications Using SproutCore," Apple revealed that the framework played a critical role in the development of each of the apps that comprise its online suite of Web-based MobileMe applications.

In its report on the matter, AppleInsider noted that: "Using SproutCore enabled Apple to deliver a new suite of online apps in MobileMe for a cross platform audience. The natural next step will be to expand those offerings to include others, for example, iWork productivity apps."

Because SproutCore is offered under the open source MIT license, anyone can use it to develop their own highly responsive web apps. It's also believed that Apple will at some point invite third parties to deliver their own MobileMe applications, either included as part of the subscription service, or with their own nominal fee.

Such a move would mirror the company's efforts in creating a mobile software market for the iPhone Apps Store.