Will the iPad Support Flash and Multi-Tasking…or is it All About Books?

I will change the web…or just sell you books! Photo: AFP/Getty

Yesterday Jobs and Co. presented the iPad as the ultimate web surfing device; something that will change the way we interact with the Web. That’s great! Can’t wait to go to all my favorite sites and let my fingers do the talking…movie sites, rich magazines, amazing design studios, and games! I’ll be able to touch and move my way around all my favorite sites and applications in a flash….ya, Flash…

All the great creative, visual effects, online movies, and virtual goodness we enjoy? Mostly all Flash (sorry Silverlight). It’s all over the Web and without it we’d mostly have just text and pictures, want to go back to that? Flash brings the web to life…and it’s coming to mobile in a big way this year.

Will the iPad will support Flash and Multi-tasking at launch…

1. You can’t enjoy the Web without Flash and Android, Blackberry, and Nokia will all support Flash this year. So, the iPhone will support Flash or be left out of the party (plus developers will get on the iPhone with Flash CS5 anyway)

2. Everyone wants to multi-task on their computer and increasingly on their phone. Android supports it so iPhone has to.

Multi-Tasking is a must-have. Do you listen to music on your computer while surfing the Web? Do you have e-mail, a browser, and a document open at the same time? We all do, and we will want to do the same thing on our beautiful iPad. With the iPhone you’re mobile and usually doing something ‘at the moment’. Sitting on the couch with your iPad means you might want to be able to do a few things and not only have one app open at a time. My bet is the iPad will support this for sure either at launch or shortly thereafter.

The distant future might see promise in HTML5 and the web moving away from plug-ins, but it’s not a guaranteed bet – remember how DHTML and VRML were supposed to change the Web? IS Flash really just a plug-in when it’s on 98% of computers out there? Plus, we need to get away from system dependent technology. We went through this with the early browser wars when you had to develop for Netscape or IE or Mozilla, and now we have the same thing on mobile. That’s got to change. We want to develop once and go everywhere.

….or is it really all about just selling books and games?

There’s only one reason I can think of that the iPad won’t support Flash or Multi-tasking…Apple only cares about selling apps and books. Reading is a dedicated activity (you don’t multitask when you read). So, could be that the real big announcement yesterday wasn’t the iPad, it was iBooks. Also, when you’re playing a game you’re not looking to do other things as well. Remember, Apple’s game is to make it easy for you to get content across all their devices; Macbook, iPod, iPhone, iPad – doesn’t matter. Device money is great but the content brings in the mountains of recurring cash.

By most accounts, iTunes dominates as the place to get (legal) online music and TV programs. The next biggest things are games, books, and magazines. All the hoopla about being the ultimate web surfing device is great but it might be that the focus is really to own and make money from more of our cultural activities…music succeeded, TV failed (so far…Apple TV), books and games are the next big prizes.

So, we’ll find out in April if the way we use the Web is really going to change or if the iPad is really a land grab to sell more apps, games, and books. I hope it’s the former because it really would change our digital lives. I’m thinking its all about the books.

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