iPad’s Lack of Flash and Openness a Blow to Publishers



Last year I called lack of Flash support on the iPhone the real Apple Tax. This is still the case and since this post, TMC had to spend significant development resources to create an iPhone specific site which converts our video from Flash to H.264.

The iPad will not have Flash support either – or multitasking for that matter. Today, Silicon Valley Insider explains that this new Apple tablet touted as a publishing savior will actually hurt media companies because their ads which are currently written in Flash need to be rewritten via the iPad SDK.

Of course this news shines more light on why Apple purchased Quattro Wireless.

But here is the problem no one seems to want to discuss or even mention in passing.

The Kindle has been a source of incremental revenue to bloggers and newspaper companies as it offers paid subscription to content but has no web browser allowing surfing for free news and articles. The iPad however has what Apple calls the best browsing experience available anywhere. As much as people complain about the iPad and iPhone being closed ecosystems – in reality the new iPad is much more open than the Kindle.

Today, many people are using smartphones to read their news and are cancelling newspaper subscriptions because they prefer reading news more quickly and free on a screen which is a bit bigger than a business card.

For the life of me I can’t fathom how any publishers will make any significant subscription revenue from a device which has not a crappy – but great web-reading experience built-in.

For those publishing companies who hoped Apple would save them with this new product, here is the brutal truth – content has to be monetized via advertising in the world of the future.

The counterargument is that media companies will integrate video and audio into their stories and will thus be able to charge for this “premium” content. Allow me to retort with what we can call Tehrani’s Content Law which states the following: Whatever paid premium content there is will be matched with nearly equivalent content which is free. I won’t argue that the free content is as good as  paid articles if you don’t argue that a lot of people will pay for something a little better when they can get something 90% as good for free.

But getting back to Apple — if the iPad is as good as some believe, it will make the Kindle seem like an antique. In fact, the touch-screen interface and color screen are two obvious attributes making current e-book users drool.

In summary, the iPad extends the Apple tax to a new device and media companies needing a savior in this new product are in trouble. I mentioned a while back how innovation for publishers is the only way to evolve into the new age. These corporations can all make it if they know how to evolve. Sadly, most of these companies are not run by techies – the people you need to help transform a business model to take advantage of new technology paradigms.

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