Friday, February 05, 2010

No Flash on the iPad

The New York Times joins the long list of journals who fail to mention the most likely reason that Apple refuses to implement Flash on the iPad.

Apple has made clear that it's intention is to control both the platform and the applications that run on the platform. Like the Video Game console makers, Apple wants to tax every application provider.

Support for Flash would provide another means of putting applications on the iPhone. And so Apple will refuse to support Flash whatever the status of the specification or the implementation until they abandon the 'application tax' model.

Is there any chance Apple will change? As with every other first generation Apple product, the iPad lacks rather a lot of features that appear essential. It is pretty obvious that the next version will have a camera for doing video conferencing. I think that they are going to find they are forced to support real USB and an SD card as well.

Apple does quite well spinning the fact that obviously essential features are missing. When the first iMac was launched it lacked a floppy drive because the box had originally been made as a 'Network PC' and repurposed as a home PC. Jobs argued that the lack of a floppy or a CDRom was because people would download programs from the Internet. This story has even been repeated this week as evidence for how 'prescient' Jobs has been in the past. Which is rather silly since there was an optical drive on the next iMac and every model since.

When the iPhone came out the big question was not whether it would make a good computer but whether it would be a usable phone. Experience of the HP iPaq range was that computer company phones were to be avoided. Rival phone makers have spent the three years since trying to catch up with the first iPhone. The fact that the iPhone is a vendor locked application platform was not a big deal to me as it was the first phone that you could run a useful application on without the thing crashing (yes, I mean you Palm).

The iPad is a computer and this time Apple is up against the rival computer makes. I don't much care how good Apple's eBook store is, I am going to buy my eBooks from Amazon which lets me read them on my Kindle, my PCs or in the very near future my Macs. The first generation iPad clones will probably be somewhat nasty. But if they have an SD slot and a proper USB port and let me write my own applications they are already looking like a better buy.

Apple is certainly going to try to roll their iPhone/iTouch application tax model onto the iPad but this time its going to fail. And when it does we will probably see the model starting to unwind on the iPhone as well. If Google Android based pad computers beat out the iPad they are going to establish a developer base to make them competitive with iPhone.