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Apple iPad Luster is waning without Flash support.

Note: part of this entry appeared in a previous blog entry. Let's just say my opinions have been changed.....

Why did I purchase this?

I took delivery of the 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad in April. No, I did not wait in line, I took the leisurely deliver it to my front door method. I guess waiting in line could have been fun hanging with the crowd, but that's ok. It got here. No, I'm not typing this blog on the iPad. This is still easier on the laptop.

I'm generally not an early adapter. When the iPhone first came out, I waited for the 2nd generation because I knew they would be faster and probably cheaper in a year or so. And I was still happy with my Motorola Razr phone.

So why jump on the very first iPad? Well, it looked like fun and it looked like a nice way to start and end each day. In the morning I have my coffee, breakfast and usually check out my emails, the local newspaper, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Daily News and the Creative Cow website. The iPad looked like it had a much better screen and viewing experience than the 15" MacBook Pro I have been using. It's also a lighter device.

On an airplane, unless I'm in first class / business class, I can't open up my laptop comfortably to work or to view a movie. I played some games on the iPhone on my previous flight, but that is a pretty small screen. When I went to NAB in April we took the iPad and sure enough, it was perfect for watching episodes of Psych and some movies. Great screen, great viewing angle.

At home when watching television, we always have the laptop around to look up websites or look up information that is spurred by whatever it is we're watching. I thought the iPad might be a little more handy than opening up the laptop each time we wanted to look up something. For the most part, this has been true. Again, it's much lighter and easier to start up and look up something than using the laptop.

So I bought this thing for entertainment and to have something that's a little smaller than a laptop. It's a multi-media device that's big enough to see the screen clearly yet small enough to go pretty much anywhere comfortably. But primarily, this unit was purchased to be used at my house for pleasure.

The Prohibition of Flash

Ok, so going into this purchase, I knew Steve Jobs prohibited Adobe's Flash from the iPhone and iPad. I've had the phone for years now and don't miss Flash on that unit at all. I don't really surf the web at all with it. When I'm waiting around for something, hanging in an airport, whatever, I'll go to the news apps to see what's going on in the world. Check the Creative Cow's mobile site to answer some questions. And definitely I check and correspond with my office and clients via email. But I don't really surf the web with it where I would miss the Flash capabilities.

I think if you polled iPhone users, you would probably get a majority of users who feel the same way. Email communication is the primary reason why we have iPhone and the ability to use Twitter, Facebook, and News websites are a nice bonus.

Now the iPad is a different animal. It's not a phone. You can't make phone calls with it. It's a multimedia device with an incredible 9.5" screen designed to work primarily with the internet. The internet is full of websites that use Flash in one capacity or another. Hulu.com is one of the more recognizable names loaded with Flash videos.

Steve Jobs claims that Flash is the past and Adobe should move on to html5 support. (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/) Flash will slow down the iPad. Flash will kill the iPad battery faster. And there's this line.... Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. Is Steve talking about Adobe or Apple? Steve, look in the mirror and say that same line.

Steve, I don't see anyone selling Mac Clones. They used to, but it's not allowed now. I don't see any other computer manufacturer running Mac OS. I don't see anyone else running the iPhone OS. I don't see any competitive pricing for the Mac products (Mac Pro, Macbook Pro, etc...) no matter where they are sold. In other words, these products are 100% proprietary, they are only available from Apple and Apple has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc...

But I digress... Flash is used for other purposes like forms, images, schematics and more. This past week my wife and I were researching pricing and itineraries for a potential cruise in 2011. Of course I pulled the iPad out as we were sitting outside on the deck. The iPad screen is very easy to see even in the full daylight. Well, one site after another would only partially work. We could get the basic information on the company, but no ship overviews, cabin layouts, itineraries and pricing would work. Just big empty white boxes. Using the Atomic Web Browser app, I checked the source of the pages and without fail, they all had .swf elements on the pages. So we pulled out my wife's HP laptop to continue with our research. Again, her screen is much brighter than my MacBook Pro's screen so it was a better choice to continue the research.

The iPad luster starts to wane.

So the lack of ability to simply research these sites that don't have any Flash video on them, they use Flash for basic functionality, really made me think about Steve's claims. Again, the iPad is an internet centric device. So if it's an internet centric device then it should work with the entire internet, not just those parts that Steve Jobs feels we should be allowed to use. I paid over $600 for this device (price of the iPad + AppleCare + tax) and I'm being arbitrarily told what website I can and cannot use.

Look I'm not an Adobe fanboy by any means, just go read my blogs about Encore and you'll see how much trouble Adobe has caused me. But Steve's fight does not hurt Adobe whatsoever. He says it's time for Adobe to stop looking back and start moving forward. Is he also going to tell all the thousands upon thousands of web sites using Flash elements they have to move forward too? Really? They have to spend thousands of hours to redesign their sites so they can operate on Apple's proprietary iPad device or create an iPad App to be sold in Apple's proprietary App Store after Apple employees approve it. Of course, they don't have to approve it and there's no arbitration or any other recourse to sell those apps for use on the iPhone and iPad.

Or, Apple could open up the iPad to Flash, one element being added to your device that opens up the entire internet. Oh and it still might not all work correctly. As Steve notes in his "thoughts" some Flash based sites rely on rollovers which a touch device doesn't support. At least not at this time. So not everything is going to work, but certainly much much more of the web will work than what works now.

And finally I bought this iPad for use today. Not for what it will do tomorrow when (if) the entire internet changes over to all html5. I'm sure it's going to happen, but just how quickly will that happen, especially when there are many millions more devices that CAN run Flash than can't. Why knock yourself out to support just the "cool" factor devices when percentage wise, they are a very very small portion of mobile internet devices in use.

So here in our house, the luster of the iPad has really started to fade and fade quickly. It's a cool device and the apps are nice, but we're pulling out the laptops more and more these past few weeks because the iPad is simply useless to do much of the research we're doing. You would think basic travel sites would work, but nope.

I originally purchased this base model of the iPad with the intention of upgrading next year. I figure it'll get faster, larger hard drive and maybe a camera next year. And then I was going to give this one to my wife. She's made it pretty clear she doesn't really want it now. She finds her HP laptop much more productive than the iPad.

At this time, it looks like I'll just use the iPad primarily for Twitter, Facebook and reading the news in the morning. When I fly, I'll watch videos on the plane. Can't really say that I would recommend the iPad anymore. When I bought it I loved it, especially the video playback. But now that I've had it for a while, I wish I would have just put the money towards a 13" Macbook or a Windows based netbook. The "cool factor" would not have been there, but at least I would have the option to use the internet, the whole internet and nothing but the internet. I'll chalk this up to a $600 mistake.

In the lexicon of Twitter, I'd have to give the current configuration of the iPad a #Fail. It's still got a great screen, but honestly I could have spent my money better elsewhere. Oh, and before you all write to me, yeah I know all about the Cloud App that allows you to run Flash video on the iPhone / iPad. Um, not exactly an elegant solution nor does it address Flash functionality on websites.


Posted by: walter biscardi on May 30, 2010 at 6:11:01 pmComments (6) apple, ipad, flash



Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.

 




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