A support document has appeared on Apple’s website revealing that retail boxes of the new iWork '09 productivity suite do not require users to input serial numbers in order to activate the product and unlock the applications. This will seemingly allow users to pirate iWork '09 a bit easier, but perhaps for Apple there is more to gain than lose in reducing the need for anti-piracy measures.

First of all, iWork is still far from being a dangerous competitor to Microsoft Office on the Mac. So, sure, removing piracy protection will probably spawn a few pirated copies of the suite but it also has the potential to increase the install base. This is good not only because it makes iWork a much more relevant competitor to Office, but because Apple is currently getting ready to launch a subscription based service called iWork.com that syncs with the latest version of the offline suite. In other words, more installations of iWork '09 equal a potentially larger stream of monthly payments.

Of course this is all speculation for now as there is no confirmation that the iWork apps don't phone home to verify that they’re validly installed. We should also mention that Apple has never required a license for its iLife suite, long delivered free on Macs, so perhaps the company is opting for a similar strategy with iWork and may decide to bundle it with new Macs at some point. Users who download the trial version of iWork '09 from Apple’s website will still need to enter a serial number.