pages 260x260 iWork 11? Probably not until next year.If you’ve been waiting on iWork ’11, we have some good and bad news. The good news is that it’s apparently finished and ready to ship. The bad news, according to Apple Insider, is that we probably won’t see it until we see the Mac App Store.

Why the wait? Chances are that we’re looking at a two-fold reasoning. On top of Apple saving shipping and production costs involved with a retail packaged version, we’re also quite possibly looking at a customizable suite of applications. Instead of having to purchase Pages, Numbers and Keynote together, you’ll likely have the option to buy the individually.

We’ve already seen Apple’s penchant for killing the optical drive in the MacBook Air. This might very well be the nail in the coffin for sending out discs other than the ones that are absolutely necessary. Even those (which we’d consider only to be OS X itself, honestly) are seeing the end of days because of Apple’s move toward flash-based distribution for its OS as happened with the Air.

Of course, this is good news for Microsoft, which shipped its Office 2011 for Mac suite toward the end of October. Though iWork is typically cheaper ($79 retail versus $109 for Office) the Microsoft offering is compelling to say the least.

The question that remains, however, is whether productivity suites are a losing proposition. With greater support for formatting in Google Docs and presentations by SlideRocket, does the time and money investment really make sense for Apple at this point?