I knew the iPad was a terrible idea. And late last week we got proof: NBC has decided not to let its programs work on Apple’s new juggernaut device.
This is huge . . . for now. Ready to wrap your head around a nearly-impossible-to-answer riddle?
Whatever Steve Jobs tells us it “is”, the iPad is a media consumption device. Sure, you can do lots of things on an iPad that render it close to computer-like, but the iPad is really a way to view/read/listen to your favorite stuff on a beautiful screen anywhere you want to go.
It’s also one part of Apple’s plan to be the media center of our world. Like iPhone OS 4.0, the iPad goes to great lengths to control how you get your media content, from whom, who gets paid what, and more.
One of the things that Chairman Steve has mandated about both the iPad and iPhone OS 4.0 is that they won’t use Adobe Flash. This rule makes sense in a way that’s long been Apple’s way of doing things; Flash can be so resource-intensive that using it sometimes slows computers to a crawl, and it has numerous security issues. Steve doesn’t want his shiny devices to look bad if Flash misbehaves.
That part sounds great and helpful, but the cynical view is that both the iPad and iPhone OS 4.0 are just control vehicles. And NBC has created a rather large problem for Steve Jobs and his people. NBC’s existing Internet content, streaming at places like Hulu, does so using Flash. Which means you won’t be able to see it on the iPad. That’s right; the iPad can’t show a lot of what you want to see.
In Apple’s eyes, the solution is simple; everybody using Flash (meaning just about every big media/television outlet) should dump Flash and replace it with a new standard that Apples deems acceptable.
Without digressing into the technical minutiae of whether Flash is actually just as good as HTML 5 or whatever other format Apple endorses, let’s lay this out: it’s not about technical specifications; it’s about money.
NBC is saying that it would be too expensive to redeploy all their video using a new standard when Flash is already entrenched and working for them. And it would cost a fortune. But the real issue is that there are existing advertising channels and methods in place for the existing Flash-based business model, and neither NBC nor anyone else needs the headache of starting over.
Unless, of course, someone pays them to do it. Someone like . . . Apple.
Hmmmmm. Apple wants to be in the advertising business. Looks like the iPad can be their ticket in, but WOW is it going to cost them. Can you say “business change”?
Apple hopes so, and that’s really what the iPad is all about. Like the iPhone, I admire the heck out of the aesthetics of the iPad, but the more I see where it’s going the more I need to tell you . . . stay away. The iPhone helps Apple and its partners, but hurts you.