Flash Support May Be Apple’s Only Weak Spot

I’ve got two kids and for privacy reasons we will call them X, age seven and Y, age six. For their last birthday X received a netbook and I noticed over the last eight months or so – it was rarely used while an iPod, a Nintendo DSi and my iPad were. So partly because I was sick of lending my iPad to the kids constantly and because I saw just how much use iOS devices were getting in my house – I lobbied the grandparents to not get another netbook but instead get the youngest child “Y” an iPad.

Y didn’t want an iPad – only because you couldn’t play some Flash-based game on it. I believe it was Webkinz – a site which allows you to take a stuffed animal and control it in a virtual world. I asked if there was an app and was told there wasn’t.

Still, I was convinced the whole Webkinz thing was a fad and/or I hoped an HTML5 version would come out soon to make the issue go away. That or I hoped they would grow out of the phase like the Wiggles, Elmo and countless other fads I have seen my kids go through.

Well when X saw that her sibling got an iPad for her birthday, depression set in. Sure we brought up the fact that at the next birthday we could get another one but it didn’t help at all.

Thankfully RIM had sent TMC their PlayBook for review and I had brought it home. One thing I wanted to try anyway was to see how intuitive this device was for kids to use. I took out the tablet and showed it to my child and I touted its features. Believe it or not this didn’t do much until I mentioned it ran Flash which meant unlike iOS devices, it can run the Webkinz website. I went to the site and did a brief demo – and wow did that change the mood in the house.

What I learned this weekend is the device is very intuitive and a seven-year old could use it as easily as an iPad – and in some ways it may even be easier to use as the swipe up and swipe down gestures are surprisingly intuitive. Although there aren’t hundreds of thousands of apps available in Blackberry App World – since the tablet runs Flash, this limitation isn’t so great.

There are rumors that the iPad and other iOS devices will run Flash eventually and moreover we know HTML5 is coming down the road and in some ways this will make Flash less necessary. But for the foreseeable future all tablet makers have an amazing opportunity to focus on Flash 24×7 in ads and anywhere else they can think of because right now this limitation is the biggest weakness I have ever seen in a product line which is beyond successful.

Yes, Apple is still very vulnerable when it comes to Flash as I have said before.

And if enough vendors pile on with the messaging, Apple will be damaged for years to come.

Disclosure – I have an investment in a vehicle which tracks Apple’s stock price – but as always remain balanced with my coverage regardless of whatever investments I make.

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