Apple's iPad: No Hulu or CBS.com Streaming Video for You!

Categories: Internet TV,New TV Technology

Written By

January 28th, 2010

No Hulu, no cbs.com, no fox.com, or abc.com, or nbc.com, or Comcast's Fancast/xFinity or any site streaming video with Adobe Flash.

I don't have a problem with Apple questing for total world domination.  It's just that in an effort to do it on multiple fronts, I fear it is missing the forest for the trees.  As with the iPhone, Apple is not supporting Flash-based video streaming for the iPad, so  iPad owners will have to buy the content from iTunes instead of watching it for free on Hulu!

When the Apple iPhone launched in late June 2007 without lack of support for Flash, the video streaming protocol used for most Internet video, I didn't consider it a very big deal.   I figured it would come soon enough.  Oops.  Months later Apple went on the record saying they wouldn't add it because "it's too slow."  Though I didn't buy that, at least not really, I still didn't think it was a huge deal with regard to the iPhone in 2007.

Most people weren't going to want to watch TV on a 3.5" screen.   And in 2007, you weren't likely to find WiFi on a plane, so if you wanted a movie, you were going to need it stored on your iPhone's hard drive anyway.

Now it's 2010 and there's still no Flash support for the iPhone.  I'm still personally annoyed over it, but again, I figure most people won't want to watch TV on a 3.5" screen.

But what about a 10" high definition screen like the newly announced iPad from Apple?  I think plenty of people will want to watch video on that.  How awesome would it be to fire up Hulu and...

But nope.  The iPad isn't going to support Flash either.   The nonsense over Flash being too slow can no longer be swallowed.  It's 2010, and the new hardware can handle Flash just fine  -- not that the old hardware couldn't.

Apple doesn't want you watching free videos on  CBS.com or Hulu.  If you want to watch those shows, Apple wants you to buy them from iTunes.  You can also watch YouTube videos via the YouTube application, which is fine if you want to watch episodes of old TV shows like "21 Jump Street," but lousy if you want to watch "NCIS," where there are currently only clips and previews rather than full episodes. There are full episodes at CBS.com, but you won't be able to stream them on you iPad.

At a price of $499 on the low end without 3G and with the smallest 16GB hard drive, I would get one as soon as it was available, if it supported Flash.   I'd have used it as a netbook/laptop replacement AND a bedroom TV.  Without Flash support, I'm not interested.

While I might have been the odd duck when it came to really enjoying video even on the small iPhone screen, a 10" screen is plenty big enough, especially when its only a few inches from your face.

I wonder if Apple is missing a big opportunity in this case, and cutting off its nose to spite its face.  I think more people would buy them if Apple marketed as "the best handheld device for watching Hulu ever!"

The eBook aspects are nice, but let's face it -- book readers like the Kindle are the "Mad Men" of the gadget world.  Critics, gadget geeks and Oprah slobber all over it, but hardly anyone, you know, actually buys one.   There's certainly a market for it, it just isn't that big.

I don't know if the market is much bigger for a 10" media device that will easily allow you to watch any of the online offerings from the networks, including Hulu, but the market for people watching video online is much, much bigger than the market for people who want to read books on a tablet computer.

The Netbook market is the most rapidly growing sector as far as the home computer hardware market goes.   You can easily find a Netbook for a couple hundred dollars cheaper than the cheapest iPad.  Nope, it won't look cool as hell, and it won't have multi-Touch, but it will at least work well with Hulu and any Flash-driven video site.

I'll be waiting for the touchscreen tablet competition in the same price range to debut.  It won't take as long as it did for the iPhone to have touchscreen competition in the smartphone market.   In the meanwhile, the iPhone will satisfy my touchscreen and application jones.   And my 2.5 year old Macbook will run Hulu just fine.

Sadly, I won't be holding my breath for Apple to give up the ghost and add Flash support for the iPad.  It's too bad.  Too bad for me at least, because I would have really loved a high definition hand-held Touch screen tablet that supported Flash.  And too bad for Apple, perhaps, because I just don't need a(nother) $500 device that doesn't support Flash.

P.S.  Yes, I know people could rip DVDs and put the content on their iPad's hard drive, or download torrents in MP4 or M4V format and move them to the iPad's hard drive, and that some people will do that.

P.P.S. Some have suggested that the limitations on Flash are so that AT&T will have to consume less bandwidth over its 3G network and be able to charge more reasonable rates.   As far as 3G goes, that makes sense, though they could still open it up to WiFi.

Bonus: for everyone ragging on the product's name, here's a Mad TV sketch from 2007 that predicted well in advance some of the issues people would have with the naming convention...

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