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1/28/2010
02:33 PM
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iPad Missing 'Something Important'

Adobe says no Flash support means Apple's hot new tablet is incompatible with millions of Web sites.

Apple iPad Launch in Pictures
(click image for larger view)
Apple iPad Launch in Pictures
Apple's iPad tablet computer, launched Wednesday amid a wave of hype almost unprecedented even for the overly excitable tech industry, is missing a feature so basic it renders it almost useless for Web surfing.

That, at least, is the criticism leveled at Apple by media software developer Adobe, whose Flash display technology powers interactive graphics on the bulk of Internet pages (while a handful use Microsoft's Silverlight).

As revealed during Apple CEO Steve Jobs' demonstration of the iPad at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, the iPad does not support Flash.

"There's something important missing from Apple's approach to connecting consumers to content," wrote Flash marketing manager Adrian Ludwig. "It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on their devices that limit both content publishers and customers," said Ludwig.

"If I want to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab—not to mention millions of other sites on the Web, I'll be out of luck," he added. Apple's decision not to support Flash on its iPad is curious, given its ubiquity throughout the Web and the fact that Adobe and Apple do not compete head on.

Adobe, however, is developing a workaround. Its forthcoming Packager for iPhone kit will allow Flash developers to build apps that run on the iPhone and, by extension, the iPad.

The lack of Flash support isn't doing much to mute the buzz surrounding the iPad launch. And Apple insisted the device is plenty flexible—capable of running the more than 140,000 programs currently available on the Apple App Store.

"iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price," said Jobs. Pricing starts at $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model, and $699 for their 64GB cousin.

Application mobilization tools are both more effective and more confusing than ever. To develop this report, InformationWeek Analytics polled nearly 700 business technology professionals and interviewed mobile application experts. Download the report here (registration required).

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