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Apple iPad – no Flash support

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Friday January 29, 2010 )

I thought my last post somewhat relating to the Apple iPad would be the only one for the week as new gadgets aren’t my core interest, but this issue is pretty important.

It seems that Apple have left out support for Flash for the iPad. It’s a pretty odd move given the device is very web-centric and how much web content requires Flash support, including most of the video we watch online.

It only dawned on me today that the iPhone doesn’t have Flash support either (goes to show how much I surf via iPhone or watch videos – handheld devices really aren’t my thing).

However, Adobe added support to its Flash Professional CS5 developer kit to convert software written in Flash into iPhone applications last year – but this is only useful in some cases given the various applications of Flash.

The only bright side I can see to this situation in terms of general surfing is that Flash ads on web sites won’t load. As I’ve mentioned in the past, Flash based advertising (generally speaking) is a pain in the ass and I think advertisers should steer clear of it in many cases unless their designers really understand it.

Flash based ads are often bandwidth heavy and hog CPU resources something shocking. I don’t know all the ins and outs of why, but I think the blame can be equally shared between Adobe and developers of Flash based ads as I believe there are work-around many designers simply aren’t using. Site owners should be aware of these issues and refuse to run such hogs as it can really screw up the user experience – and the average user won’t know it’s the ad doing it.

These performance issues are likely one of the reasons Flash isn’t supported on the iPhone and now iPad.

To the good folks at Adobe – the CPU/memory issue has been a known problem for a long time; fix it already! If a web page ever locks up my notebook, dollars to doughnuts it’s been caused through a Flash based ad. Attending to this may make Apple more open to including support.

The other reasons that Apple are resisting it may include security issues, not to mention loss of their stranglehold on apps.

Anyhow, Adobe have made their feelings known about the lack of Flash support on the iPad and make a good point – over 70% of games and 75% of video on the web require Flash. But it goes beyond those aspects and advertising – some web sites have Flash based menus and also display images using the Flash format.

While the lack of Flash support isn’t a huge problem now, between increased iPhone usage and if the Apple iPad really takes off, the company will wind up on the hitlist of many disgruntled site owners and a good number of iPad users too I suspect.


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