Many Of Apple’s Supposed List Of “iPad Ready” Sites Don’t Work On The iPad

IMG_2161 A few days before Apple’s iPad went on sale, Apple launched a new section on their website showcasing a list of websites that they call “ipad ready”. Clearly, part of their reason for doing so was to combat a lot of the people, including myself, who think the lack of Flash support on the iPad makes for a bad user-experience on the device. What Apple didn’t say is that many of these sites, including the New York Times, Reuters, Time and MLB, aren’t truly iPad ready.

After spending a lot hours over the past few days on the iPad, many of the websites I have visited on Apple’s list of “iPad ready” websites, simply don’t work. While videos on the home page work or featured content works, many times when you go a layer down, you can’t get the content. For instance, on the New York Times site, all it takes is clicking on a few links to get blank pages that tell you, “In order to view this feature, you must download the latest version of flash player here“. What? According to Apple, I thought the New York Times site was “iPad ready”. No, Apple wants you to believe it is, but when a lot of the content I am trying to view on the New York Times tells me to download Flash, that’s not my idea of “iPad ready”. It’s simply Apple’s being fast and loose with their words, thinking we won’t notice. “Some” content on these sites works on the iPad, but to imply the “site” is iPad ready is a flat out lie.

On Reuters and Time, while a lot of the content is viewable on the iPad, some of it isn’t. It’s also interesting to note on the Apple site, in reference to the Reuters site it says that “most of” their content is viewable. Define “most of”. On all of the news sites they use a lot of Flash graphics, not just videos, for all of the interactive elements like showcasing election results or applications that have a lot of photos. None of those work on the iPad amongst all of the news sites I visited. And even on Apple’s own site, they use the word “video” when talking about these “iPad ready” sites, not the word content. Flash is used for all kinds of content, not just videos.

While is listed by Apple as one of the sites that works on the iPad, it doesn’t. When visiting or any of the team pages, in every video window you get a message that says “click here to learn how to get video highlights on the iPad“. That link then takes you to an MLB page that links to the MLB iPad app that you can download for $14.99. While there is nothing wrong with a content owner creating an app specifically for the iPad, no where does Apple say that on their website. In fact, Apple lists the URL on their website, which is completely deceptive.

Maybe MLB and others plan to change this over time and it is possible that “iPad ready” sites, as defined by Apple, plan to make more content available down the road. But for all the folks who are quick to comment about how all these main-stream websites have agreed to support HTML5 and think Flash is doomed, you better pick up and iPad and use it for a few days before you make any comments. You can’t argue with a message that says “please download Flash to see this content“. Anyone who buys something from Amazon and can’t get a product video, is looking to adopt a pet and can’t see content on Petfinder or is trying to watch a video on is going to be very disappointed.

Apple is shooting itself in the foot by not supporting Flash on the iPad because as much as they want to try and argue or convince us that the “experience” is better without Flash, anyone who actually uses an iPad will tell you it isn’t. Apple needs to quit with the hype, stop trying to make an Apple business decision into an Adobe technical problem and should focus on giving iPad users a REAL browsing experience and not Apple’s own defined limitation of what they think a browsing experience is.

Updated: As someone rightly points out in the comment section below, on Apple’s page that lists the “iPad ready” websites there is a disclaimer that says, “The above websites vary in their level of compliance with open web standards and in some instances may require a plug-in to view content.” The ironic part of that is that the iPad does not support plugins.

Note: Whenever I write about Apple, I get a lot of comments from folks who own Apple stock, think the company can do no wrong or leave me comments about how Flash won’t survive because they had a problem with their Acrobat reader, which isn’t even relevant to the conversation. You want to debate the points I raise above, lets do it. But don’t expect a reply from me if all you want to say in the comments section is “I don’t like Flash”.

  • Hate the browsing…

    Dan, you got that right. Browsing on the iPad stinks. I hate it. If this is the kind of experience that is going to put Adobe out of business, then Adobe has nothing to worry about.

  • Dan, the ironic thing about the “iPad ready” page is the disclaimer at the very bottom of it:
    “The above websites vary in their level of compliance with open web standards and in some instances may require a plug-in to view content.”
    Shame the iPad doesn’t support plugins. Still I’m sure they’ll have an app for that :p

  • Jeremy

    The iPad does some things very well, but browsing the web isn’t one of them. HTML5 is years away from replacing Flash in a truly significant way. Let’s just pretend we’re only talking about video delivery here: First off, you have to have all your content in H.264 or Ogg format. If you have significant amounts of files encoded in FLV format, NO HTML5 FOR YOU! Secondly, there’s browser confusion. Some support it, some might support it, some won’t ever support it. So, not only will I have to re-encode all my video assets if they are FLV, I also have to write a bunch of browser checking logic and serve up different version of my site to make it work. Bah- That’s WHY we went to Flash. We write a cool interactive video widget once and it works the same on all the browsers and platforms.
    What about live video events, dynamic bitrate switching, DVR functionality, DRM, alpha channel support, and numerous other functionality I can get now with Flash? Can I easily do all that with HTML5 Mr. Jobs?
    I’m pretty ticked about this pissing match Apple is engaged in. Adobe has obviously done some work to improve Flash on mobile devices and I think with some cooperation Apple and Adobe can work to get something done, but sadly this will never happen. Jobs is just too stubborn.
    I’m sure Apple will just point to the sales figures as justification that they were right and Adobe sucks, but in the end it’s the iPad users who will suffer. Sure, the iPad is a great ebook reader, and the bigger screen will bring some great games and apps to the table, but until EVERY website gets reconfigured with HTML5 and HTML5 matures enough to provide similar functionality to Flash for all of the other interactive features, web browsing will feel a little like driving a Porsche but not being allowed to go past 2nd gear.

  • Dan –
    I tested this out in Safari for Mac (disabled plugins and set the user agent string appropriately) from my desktop and noticed the same thing on However, when I visited the site from an iPad, the player worked fine. When did you perform your tests? Also, do you happen to know how Brightcove is detecting the iPad vs Safari with a modified user-agent?
    Separately, I agree that HTML5 is quite immature. Each browser supports bits and pieces, but all are missing basic functionality (hardware decoding, fullscreen, bandwidth switching, etc). While it certainly isn’t a Flash-killer yet, it will certainly keep Adobe on their feet in the coming months and years.

  • I think, Apple should support both formats and heck even Silverlight for that matter. Let developers choose their platform and let consumer decide what they what to use in their iPads. I think blocking technologies is arrogant and so not forward thinking. Apple should be leading on this arena.

  • Well put.

  • @ Zach, I did my testing up until today. The NYT screenshot I include is from this morning. You say the “player worked fine” for you, and it does for me too, just not in all places where Flash is used on the website.

  • The thing is recreating all of that content. Many of it was probably done by contractors so to spend more money just for a “magical” device isn’t highly likely. I’m sure some will shell out some dough or re-route internal dev’s workload to get’er done but the bottom line is how many companies will 100% redo elements of their site just for Apple? This involves redoing their business structure in some ways too (ie – ad revenue, etc).
    Just a few more thoughts there. 🙂

  • To be fair, Apple did write that MLB “features a browsing experience optimized for iPad,” which I guess doesn’t mean that the video has to play 🙂
    But yeah, I had assumed they would as well.

  • Jackson

    I’m a big Mac fan, and have used Macs since 1988. I used to be a big Apple fan too. But, lately they’re rubbing me the wrong way. I think they’ve gotten too cocky, and are showing signs of losing their morals.
    I think the best word that describes Apple’s behavior around Flash and the iPad/iPhone is “disingenuous.”
    They are spinning this to create FUD and to slander Adobe and Flash as an attempt at misdirection. What they do not want to talk about is the fact that they are trying to control the sales and distribution of content. Flash is a threat to their business, because if it were present on their devices, Flash developers and entrepreneurs could use Flash to create a competing eCommerce platform that would threaten iTunes and iBookStore.
    Apple’s refusal to allow Flash on their devices has nothing to do with the performance of Flash on their devices, and everything to do with Apple protecting their iTunes Store business model. Flash is the one piece of their vertical strategy that they cannot control, so, they are doing what they can to deposition it. Based on this article, they’re having some trouble with their strategy.
    Now I have absolutely no problem with Apple protecting their business model by preventing others from setting up shop on their iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad devices. They invested in building that ecosystem and have done a terrific job of capitalizing on markets that were declining. (a thought provoking article on why you may not want to support Apple: seems pretty balanced, but (justly) accuses them of being nefarious). I just wish they’d be honest about it.
    I have a big problem with Apple being disingenuous and slandering a partner that has worked hard to support the Mac community for over 20 years. And as a customer, I resent Apple for trying to force me into a position of having to choose between their products and Adobe/Flash. I want to use both, and to use them together. I also resent Apple for preventing me from being able to experience the entire web on their devices. Why should I allow Apple to choose what I can see when browsing the internet? That totally pisses me off. Like it or not, Flash is a fact of life for everyone on the web, even Apple.
    Another reason Apple hates on Flash – AIR and Flash content run on all platforms equally, working against Apple’s attempt to differentiate their platform. (Microsoft is not a fan of AIR and Flash for the same reasons). Developers love being able to write their code once, and have it work equally well everywhere there is a Flash Player or AIR runtime – which is pretty much everywhere. The alternative is to rewrite their code for each platform which is expensive and time consuming. Apple doesn’t want developers to write code for any platforms other than Apple’s.
    Adobe has been kicking Apple’s ass pretty good over the last few years, and I suppose there might be some pretty hard feelings over in Cupertino. E.g.,
    – Flash video defeated QuickTime video for the web video solution
    – Adobe’s video products are stealing market share from Final Cut Studio like crazy
    – Adobe soundly defeated Apple when they attempted to enter the pro photography market and challenge Photoshop
    I expect Flash Player 10.1 to be a game changer on mobile. Apple are digging their heels in and will refuse to put Flash and AIR on their devices, but all around them, their competitors are going to leverage Flash and AIR to eat a big part of the iPhone’s lunch.
    This is one of the best battles in tech in a long time, maybe ever. It is fun to watch! However, as customers, there’s a real danger of us becoming collateral damage in Apple’s crusade to kill Flash.

  • Intosh

    I guess the “best web browsing experience” Steve Jobs alluded to only applies to some sites.
    Steve Jobs, one heck of a sales guy.

  • There is some confusion here between web video and animated interactive features. I conducted a similar experiment and collected some links to interactive features on the sites that I am quite sure will not work on iPad.

    I think the confusion is no accident. Part of Apple’s spin is to imply that Flash is all about video – this is surely what Steve Jobs was doing when he told the Wall Street Journal it was a “trivial” job to replace flash with HTML5. It IS relatively easy to replace the video player – there is no easy way to redo all those flash games, educational sites, graphs and maps etc.

  • jw

    I applaud Apple’s position if for only the fact it may produce a better Flash…
    Let’s face it, Flash has been running contention free for a long time, so long that its product has become bloated and inefficient. I use a Dell XPS w/NVIDIA graphics in my home theater, exclusively to view online rendering of shows in Flash. Poor packaging of the NVIDIA graphics chip + Flash inefficiencies = 4 Dell replacements of my motherboard.
    Every time I run Flash for a few hours, the system is very hot to touch; conversely, watching a DVD on a DVD player application for a few hours does not make the system heat up.
    So, what I see happening here is that the controversy over Flash will produce two positive outcomes: (1) the betterment of Flash itself and (2) a viable alternative on the web to keep Adobe from resting on its laurels.

  • Hi jw,
    What is “Apple’s position” exactly? I realize Steve Jobs has been widely quoted as saying Adobe is lazy and so on, but has Apple formally stated their position regarding supporting Java, Flash, Silverlight, or other plugins on their mobile devices? Is there a press release or official announcement I can read somewhere where they say they will never support plugins? Has Apple published anything where they explain why they don’t currently support plugins?
    I don’t believe Apple’s lack of support for plugins in their iPhone OS created any necessary competition for Adobe. The Microsoft Silverlight plugin provides all the competition that Adobe needs. Silverlight has been aimed at Adobe Flash for a long time. If you feel Silverlight wasn’t sufficient competition, Web browser providers like Mozilla and Google have been leading the way in improving JavaScript performance. Their goal has been to enrich HTML/CSS/JavaScript as an application delivery platform that, in some respects, competes with Flash. But, unlike Apple, both Mozilla and Google continue to support plugins in their products. Google in particular has done a great job of promoting HTML 5 while continuing to support Flash – especially in Android and Chrome.
    I don’t think there was ever any danger of Adobe resting on its laurels nor does it seem reasonable to blame Flash for contributing to your motherboard problems.

  • Jorge

    Considering that page has a section where the person running the site is supposed to submit their page as being ‘iPad ready’ isn’t it possible that it isn’t totally Apple’s fault these sites aren’t ‘iPad ready’ and instead the fault of the designers for saying it is when it isn’t?

  • Paul Knight

    I think Apple has carefully chosen the list of iPad ready sites to try to persuade potential customers. I submitted my online anti-apple petition site which is completely iPad ready, and it didn’t make the list. They took it off the developer forums too, but sent a very polite email when they did.

  • Apple’s decision to break the web rather than allow flash on their ipad is beyond arrogant, it is hubristic. Their faithful followers may be willing to live with years of a lesser online experience, but the rest of us will not.
    The difference between the open box and the closed one has never been more clear. Macs have their own applications that work about the same as PC stuff, but everybody uses the same web. I predict that unless and until Apple gives in on supporting Flash, ipad sales will fail to meet expectations.
    This is a classic battle like the one between VHS and Beta, except HTML5 starts out way behind on content. Mac users have been used to weaker hardware for many years, now they will have to put up with a far worse online experience with the ipad. This was a boner move by Jobs.

  • Brendan

    I agree with many of the comments made against the ipad browsing experience. That said, I’m glad Apple is making flash websites go the way of the dodo bird. The push towards a standards based, HTML 5 future has made UX more important than big shiny spinning buttons, and for that I appreciate Apple’s efforts.
    (typed on an iPad)

    • Keep waiting, Sahib, keep hoping, most importantly keep sending Pingguo Computers more cash. Promises cost money. (typed on a Blackberry Playbook)

  • Brandon

    On a iPad now, and pissed at how I can’t do things I normally can do on a PC when on, and this is after a string of stuff that needed flash that didn’t work… things I bought and expected to use the iPad for. I’m getting something else that can deal with popular content media… anybody looking for used iPad?

  • “best web browsing experience”………………….

  • Brandon, you mean you paid $500 for something you either knew would not run flash and are now upset that it doesn’t, or you are upset because you failed to do the research and find out it didn’t run flash before you bought it. Which is it?
    Personally, I am thankful someone is helping kill flash. I am so tired of slow web sites chocked full of useless sparkle that I could puke. Heck, that’s why I am posting this from Shiretoko, 64bit browser with no flash support!

  • JonnySaint

    Apple wants to kill the browser, it compromises their controlled App world where they get a cut of every App sold and now, the content that’s delivered in those Apps too! Most Apps could just as easily be a website redesigned to work on a mobile device…stop supporting this people, they’re sucking us in with shiny objects. The whole “Flash is dangerous and a power hog” argument is false.

  • The question is, when are they going to enable flash support on the iPAD and other products like iTouch and iPhone?

  • Euronetwork

    Great post! All the more reason for me to choose the Kindle over the iPad. I’m pretty sure the wait is going to be so worth it.

    • $149 Blackberry Playbook runs like Jack the Bear. Totally satisfied with it, 110%.

  • It’s always been their bullshit that’s turned me off of their trinkets.