iPad 2 and Ecommerce

Last week, Apple announced the iPad 2, the next generation of their highly successfully iPad.  The iPad 2 has cool, new features like a dual-core processor and front and rear cameras.  It is lighter and thinner.  But alas, it is still missing a feature that I deem critical.

First, let me state that I own the original iPad, use it almost every day, and originally wrote about it when it first came out.  I use my iPad to check Facebook, do some reading using the Kindle app, view online news articles, and occasionally do some shopping.  But the one thing that I can’t do from my iPad or the new iPad 2 is view Flash content, such as is found on many websites and in some online videos.

Now, I don’t often need to view Flash content, but when I do need to and can’t, it is a pain!  Often someone has posted a link to a short video clip and I can’t watch it.  Yeah, sometimes the videos are those silly ones on Youtube, but sometimes they are serious ones and I can’t watch them either.  And why can’t I watch them?  Because Apple’s Steve Jobs has decided that Adobe’s Flash is bad on the iPhone, iPod, and iPad, but it is ok for the Mac!

It doesn’t matter that some Android-based smartphones can display Flash content while the iPhone cannot – Apple will not support Flash on their mobile devices.  Personally, if there was a tablet computer equivalent to the iPad that supported Flash, I would have purchased that instead.  But the iPad has been the only serious game in town.  I thought that when Motorola’s Xoom tablet came out that the iPad would have some serious competition, but even it does not yet support Flash.  (Motorola does plan to add support for Flash on the Xoom later this month.)

Ok, what does this have to do with Ecommerce?  Well, Apple makes cool, useful products and has tons of users.  If Apple’s devices do not support a given technology, then many potential shoppers will not have access to the technology.  If possible, I recommend that you do not use Flash content on your web site.  The iOS ecosystem of iPhone, iPod, and iPad is estimated to be over 185 million units and growing.  That is a significant install base that cannot be ignored.

And what is the alternative to Flash?  Apple wants vendors to move to HTML5.  And while this is happening, the Flash install base is so large that it will take a very long time before all current Flash content migrates over, if ever.


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