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Video on the iPad: HD, But No Flash

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We all pretty much knew it was happening, and Steve Jobs didn’t let us down: Apple (s AAPL) introduced a tablet device called the iPad at today’s event in San Francisco. You can read a play-by-play of the unveiling on TheAppleBlog’s Twitter feed and check this post for links to the complete GigaOM network coverage. Of course, the aspect that we we’re most interested in is: How good of a newteevee device is the iPad?

Video actually played a big role during the announcement, with Jobs saying that a new device only made sense if it was better at watching video, among other tasks, than current laptops and smartphones. Jobs also demoed watching YouTube in HD and playing movies and TV shows from the iTunes store. However, a small detail during the presentation revealed that the iPad won’t satisfy all your online video needs.

First, a few word about the specs: The iPad features a 9.7-inch IPS display. This type of LCD display technology features better viewing angles than your average desktop screen, which should help to make the iPad an in-your-lap kind of device. IPS is generally known to use a little more power than regular LCDs, but Jobs said that the iPad will still offer around 10 hours of video viewing on one charge. Apple will sell the tablet with 16-64 GB of Flash storage. That’s not that much for HD video, but it should suffice for the average user, especially given the fact that you’d only watch an iTunes rental once before deleting it. The iPad will have a 1Ghz processor that Apple developed in-house and presumably some powerful GPU working under the hood to make HD video work.

Now, what will be available in terms of video content? Obviously iTunes downloads, but also YouTube, and live video delivered through apps. One example for this was a demo by, which combined full-screen live streams from games with advanced features like instant replay, information about the trajectory of every pitch and a choice of announcers.

One interesting aspect of the device was briefly shown during the presentation of the New York Times iPad app. The application seemed to have a similar look and feel as its iPhone counterpart, judging from photos available on various gadget blogs. However, videos were playable directly on the page, much like you would expect from a video embed on a web site. That’s not really so revolutionary for an online news offering, but it opens up a whole range of possibilities for adding video content to apps for magazines or even dictionaries.

Speaking of books: iPad owners will have access to the iBook app, which is essentially a Kindle-like e-book experience, but for a color display. Apple is using the ePub format for this. ePub is an open standard based on XML which theoretically would allow publishers to include multimedia files as well. However, no such capabilities were demoed on stage, and it’s unclear whether the iPad will actually support video integration in its e-books, because the iPad doesn’t support Flash.

Yes, no Flash on the iPad. There, I said it. Unlike Jobs, who tried really hard to avoid the subject on stage. Of course, maybe he shouldn’t have gone to the New York Times web site, where an embedded ad produced a “missing plug-in” error early on during the presentation. That means you won’t be able to watch any content from Hulu on the iPad and many embedded videos on blogs and other sites won’t play, either. Of course, some content will be available through dedicated apps, since many platforms have tried to get their video on the iPhone, which also doesn’t have Flash.

Finally, there’s no video camera integrated into the iPad, and Jobs didn’t announce any video accessories. However, I could see third-party companies jumping onto this, provided that Apple doesn’t somehow lock the dock interface. One possible application: a teleprompter for podcasters, complete with an attached camera. But enough with the speculation, let’s hear your thoughts: Do you think the iPad will make a good online video device? What are you going to use it for — or what’s gonna stop you from buying it?

For more on the iPad’s impact on online video, check Get Ready for the iPad to Change the Way You Watch Video.

87 Responses to “Video on the iPad: HD, But No Flash”

  1. For all of you Flash fanboys, I hope you realize Flash is nearly a decade old 15 years old..theres better technologies out there and Steve Jobs founded apple and now solely owns it, with yearly revenues around 78 billion…i’d think he’s a little smarter hexing flash while you love it…lol

  2. Nola2nooga

    I am so aggravated with this I pad. No video when I want to see Clips,instructions whatever. Give me my PC or LAPTOP, not an MAC! BTW.
    And FORGET the annoying auto fill. I know how to spell. THANK-YOU!

  3. Nearly 70% of the web has some Flash application (if not all) on their sites and Steve Jobs is putting up his middle finger to those site owners. How arrogant! Agreed, HTML 5 is going to be the future but it’s full implimentation is at last 3-6 years away and it does not have as much functionality as Flash. Other mobile devices ARE going Flash capable and because of their richer feature sets will hand Steve his teeth to him in a paper bag!

  4. Like most apple products it really stinks not to be able to watch embedded video players. Probably Steve was bullied in school by the adobe guy but not to even watch embedded windows player is a huge thumbs down.

  5. robert

    so i have learned one more reason at least for me not to buy an ipad. it will not play a movie in a small window and another app at the same time. i was told that the movie player takes over the whole device this sucks badly. so i might have bought one if i could have sat in my tent and watched a movie and studied my kanji at the same time on the same device. what would be really cool would be an ipod app player for windows. because as far as i can tell apple really sucks but all those apps that decent programers have writtin is what is propping up apple.

  6. robert


  7. Joe King

    Great concept but poor execution. If your web experience is limited (no flash and flash is huge) how can you claim the I-PAD is the best web experience ever? It sounds really frustrating. I think I will wait for Adobe or Microsoft to come out with their product I am sure it will address all aspects of the user experience.

  8. Unix rooter

    No flash on iphone, itunes on windows mobile. So who is the big bad software developer? Certainly not Microsoft in this example. I’ll stick to more open software, even if it remains closed source.

  9. Richard Durand

    they should make a button “enable Flash or Disable” if u dont like it, dont use it! Just turnit off! and they still didnt make it >:( thats sucks! i watch soccer on web sites that uses flash, im gonna stay with my laptop and wait until microsoft come out with their “Curer” thats gonnabe some next shit! im pretty shure it will support everiting, unlike asshole Apple, but stil i love my iPhone, of course after jailbrake, hopefully hackers will jailbrake the iPad and enable the hidden features

  10. Apple makes me lol. Nah, we dont like flash (which is a standard on today’s internet, im actually listening to music on a flash based player as i type this), we want to force our own quicktime onto our users (effectively blocking off a hell lot of websites from them). Funny how they try to make laws for the internet while their iphones and itampons are >1% of market share (about 6.5% with macs). it’s their own users they’re screwing over, im happy with my flash on my pc, laptop and psp.

  11. To be fair, we don’t know that there won’t be flash. That could just as well mean that the plugin just isn’t installed because Adobe hasn’t made one for that OS yet. All of this speculation and assurance just isn’t founded until we get more information.

  12. Well, here are 10 reasons why I won’t buying the iPad:

    1. No cameras mean no video conferencing and Augmented Reality
    2. No Flash support means no rich internet browsing and I love playing online flash games
    3. No SD card slot and no integrated USB port!
    4. No E-Ink screen means no comfortable ebook reading
    5. It doesn’t replace my laptop, my netbook, my smartphone, my PSP, my DS and my ebook reader
    6. No multitasking
    7. It’s not a real tablet computer (why would I want one anyway?)
    8. Eventually I’ll get a bigger, cheaper and more powerful Windows tablet instead with a full HD screen
    9. Carrying an iPad man bag would make them question my manhood…
      1. It’s just a bigger iPod touch.

    ;) My top 10 reasons why I’ll buy the Apple iPad are here:

  13. I hope palm can make a tablet with its WebOS. I love my palm pre and love that i can multitask on it. And the best part of it is that next month we will have Flash!! We are just beginning with native 3d accelerated apps but they look and play just as good as an iPhone 3g!

    • I am an iPhone user and find the Palm pre too small a form factor to use, but I appreciate that it brought something different to the table. Most other phones (droid, htc) are iPhone knock off’s that didn’t really bring anything new to the table, sans maybe a camera flash.

      If Palm Pre came out with a similar device but added multitasking, supported flash and had a browser that ran everything a laptop could I would definitely be on board. Apple does have a lot of hype on their side so it would be quite a task to go up against them. Any competition is good for the industry so I hope they jump into the tablet market as well.

  14. I couldn’t care less about flash, its annoying (that’s why I use ClickToFlash), but then again I don’t live in the good ol’ USA ;) By that, I mean I don’t have access to HULU, which seems to be the main reason all you yanks complain about the lack of flash. It wasn’t hard for YouTube to go to H.264, I don’t see why HULU can’t.

    Good to see some sites are now playing with HTML5. Flash is way too proprietary and Adobe is way too greedy with their products. It will be good to see them fall.

    Hmm. I’m sounding a little tooo snide and nasty there I think. But I’m just sick of the whinging about the lack of flash.

    • Adobe is not the only greedy Pete on the market. Apple’s lack of Flash support is greed driven as well. They don’t want to pay the piper for flash they want you to use Apple driven quicktime software. I’m surprised mac books even support it.

      I’m a yank that can care less about HULU, though it is cool and if you had access you would want it as well. Flash web programming is so prolific in current web design that the no flash issue goes beyond flash video. To tout something as the second coming in a web interface device and not include a standard that has been well adopted by the web at large is a first rate faux pas. No flash support is a deal breaker for me.

      Besides everybody knows you don’t buy the 1st gen of any Apple device. They have a knack for screwing their customers on the first series. Anybody with a 1st gen iPhone will attest to that.

      • Hey … totally fair comment. I just don’t like flash as it kills my Macbook. I do know of the problems with the proliferation of flash across the web and the difficulty in not supporting it. I have my own website that I have to reprogram as I did use flash when I created it; hah, hah. My bad.

      • In 3 years there will be over 100m iPads on the world market.
        If apple and adobe can resolve they’re proprietary issues, fine,
        if not, in five years no one will remember ‘flash’!

      • I think that’s complete nonsense. has the lack of flash hurt apple’s iPod/iPhone sales? flash is not a standard. period. and it’s not as prolific as you think. turn it off on your pc for a week and see if you really miss it. nobody really misses real player either.

        Sites that rely on flash for usability don’t really fit into the ‘current webdesign’ category any more – if they ever have. that train is leaving the station. the ‘faux pas’ is on the side of the designer that didn’t provide a ‘standard based’ alternative.

        the web doesn’t belong to adobe. no matter how much they whine about it.

  15. The fact that it is essentially a bigger iPod touch is a huge dealbreaker. It’s obvious Apple is afraid of hurting it’s MacBook sales. My guess is it will be the only tablet coming out this year sans flash and a true OS feel. I guess it would be too much to hope that this thing would be open source but this other lack of features suck.

  16. This is everything I wanted. A bigger Ipod Touch. All I use it for really is email and web browsing (and music). I had been really wanting a bigger screen than this little Ipod Touch.

    I did feel iPad is a bit too big though. And they should have USB and memory card slots. Otherwise, (Flash issue notwithstanding) Im happy and eager to “upgrade” from my iPod Touch for my casual on-the-couch web activities.

  17. I’m still using the PowerBook G4 I got for Christmas 3 or 4 years ago. It works great, don’t get me wrong, but I was looking to replace it with something else with a matte screen. I wonder why no ability to, say, write a paper or compose a powerpoint presentation?? Now that would be worth $499! This over – sized iPhone, for those of us who already have one, not worth it.

    The iCal looked cool though, and if you were thinking about a Kindle-type device anyway, this is certainly worth a look.

    • It does hae the ability to write a paper or compose a powerpoint presentation. In fact, the iPad version of iWork is probably one of the main reasons I’m interested in this device.

  18. Big disappointment. Just a larger Ipod Touch with 3G but I can’t carry it around in my pocket. Apple has shot itself in the foot 5 times – no computer OS, no flash, no webcam, no multitasking, no external memory.
    I can only see members of the Apple church buying it, but then they’d buy Steve Job’s old socks if they could.

  19. Apple are one decent Android powered Tablet away from being upended.

    No Flash

    No Webcam

    No Multi Tasking

    Three lethal flaws from a device that needs to be more versatile than an iPhone and more portable than a Laptop.

  20. Dale Kemper

    Yeah, I was hoping they wouldn’t go with a totally iPhone derived operating system that didn’t support flash on this device. No Flash is also the reason I still have as of yet to upgrade my iPhone from the standard 3g.

    Most of the sites I visit and work with have at least some Flash…if not completely done in this format. Aggravating to say the least.

    I think I’ll sit on the fence and wait to see if that feature comes available, and if it does……..then maybe I’ll upgrade my iPhone and by an iPad too. Otherwise I’m sitting on what I got

    • Totally agree, Dale. Watching flash video and listening with flash audio players is a big part of my internet experience. I may still get one because I’m doubtful flash will ever come to iphone or ipad. Still, I’m curious about the HP slate, which has full Windows 7 on it.