iPad's Lack of Flash Is Not Due to Any 'Shortcomings' With Flash; Blame Apple

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Includes: AAPL, ADBE
by: Dan Rayburn

In my post entitled "Many Content Owners Can't Afford To Make Their Videos Available For iPad", many readers left comments making it clear that they blame Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) for the lack of Flash video support on the iPad. Too many simply want to disregard the additional costs a content owner has to support the iPad by blaming supposed shortcomings in Flash, even though we've seen data from tests to show that these shortcomings do not exist.

Reading many of the comments on my post it's clear that some just want an excuse to bash Flash, yet if my content was in Silverlight, I don't think they would be saying the same thing. If someone does not like Flash, that's fine, they have every right to. But their dislike for a platform gives them no grounds to stand on to say that there are no additional costs to content owners to support video on the iPad.

Yes, Brightcove and other online video platforms can re-encode the content for free, but StreamingMedia.com only has that option because Brightcove nicely gave us a free account years ago. Before that, we had to encode our content like many content owners do, without using a video platform, which is the way a lot of content owners still do it today. None of the folks who commented addressed any of the additional hosting costs that can be associated with video for the iPad. They imply that it's easy and cheap to re-encode, yet many, but not all, video platform providers charge content owners based on the number of assets in their system at any given time. So in many cases, content owners would be paying for 2x the number of video clips each month.

And for those that said I can just hire someone, some college kid, to re-encode the content for cheap, that's my point, I still have to hire someone to do it. Even if I only paid them $10 an hour, how many hours will it take to re-encode thousands of clips? It's not cheap no matter how you slice it.

Too many people also have this notion that "open standards" exist with video, which is flat out wrong. H.264 is not open as it is owned by MPEG LA and encoders and decoders require licensing, which is something no one seems to talk about when browser support is debated. To imply that there is no cost to a content owner or that converting lots of videos for support on the iPad is easy, quick or cheap is ignoring the facts.

If Safari on the iPad supported Flash, as a content owner I would have ZERO costs. As one person said in the comments, "to purposefully want to break the whole web for your gadget is absolutely disingenuous just to stick it to Adobe." And they are right. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) wants us to believe the reason they don't support Flash is because it's a "CPU hog", yet based on testing we've seen, that's not accurate. This is simply Apple's way of trying to deflect the issue to Adobe when it has nothing to do with Adobe, the problem lies with Apple.

Yet some want to agree with Apple and complain about how "poor" Flash is by talking about CPU issues, calling it "bloatware" or complaining about security patches. As a Mac only user, how often does Apple put out OS X security updates? Very often. But I don't see them complaining about that. Many of these folks are probably the same people that have said that the growth we have seen in the industry over the past few years has been (in part) thanks to Flash and sites like YouTube. So they are quick to say how seamless Flash has made viewing video on the web, but then want to take Apple's side as to why the iPad should not support it.

If you don't like Flash, fine, don't support it and don't use it. But as a content owner, when Apple comes along and says they will keep their ecosystem closed, not allow any third party platforms and force content owners to jump through hoops just to have the "privilege" of having their content available on the iPad, that's wrong. That's not good for content owners, nor is it good for the consumer and it contributes to a poor user-experience with the device. Content owners should not be letting Apple get away with this. They should have a choice to support multiple platforms if they want to, yet no choice is given.

Without content, the iPad is useless. Yet many content owners are so quick to bow to Apple's demands and fall all over themselves just to be on the iPad that they don't look at the bigger picture of what this means for the rest of the industry. They are setting a really bad precedent.

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