A lack of support for Flash, which is ubiquitous on the Web, has been held up as a major differentiator by companies making competing tablet computers. But the mass market appeal of Apple’s products has encouraged many developers to find a ways to replicate the functionality of Flash using iPhone and iPad-compatible tools.
“We’re rebuilding that as fast as we can in HTML 5 to offer a roughly equivalent experience. It took four years to build that in Flash, and we’re thinking less than a year in HTML,” says Jeff Whatcott, senior vice president of marketing for Brightcove.
On April 10, Adobe will address the lack of Flash on the iPhone/iPad OS by releasing Creative Suite 5, which will include tools for converting Flash applications into iPhone and iPad compatible apps.
In addition to a larger screen and new interface conventions, the biggest different with the iPad is its significantly faster Apple-made A4 processor. Many of the first iPad apps will not push its limits, however, in part because the vast majority of developers have been forced to test their applications on an iPad simulator and not on the real thing. Lynch and his colleagues at Panelfly plan to use the iPad’s faster chip to power video and animation in the comics they distribute, but they won’t release their app until after they have tested it on a real device.
In this respect, developers porting applications from the slower iPhone platform have an advantage. For example, Phil Hassey, creator of a “real-time RISK” game called Galcon, which started as an iPhone app, was able to port the desktop version of his game to the iPad in just a few days.
If the satisfaction of a handful of iPad developers is any measure, Apple has already succeeded on one front, and happy developers should lead to a healthy ecosystem of applications for the iPad. Even the device’s deficiencies are opening up new business opportunities for third-party developers. “We think [the lack of Flash on the iPad] is actually a good thing for us because customers come to Brightcove when dealing with video,” says Whatcott.