I just noticed something about surfing the web on an iPad. Here’s a hint: look at the red circle in the New York Times screenshot above.
It was hard to spot because it’s actually noticing something that’s not there: the blue Legos where the Flash plugin should be.
In January, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, he wasn’t able to load the NYT‘s front-page videos (remember the Lego bricks visible during his debut event?) The absence of Flash seemed like a major problem. Video, games, rich-media — none of these would work, pundits said, and the iPad would be a crippled device.
But that hasn’t proven to be the case. Not at all. During the past month I’ve been using the iPad, I’ve rarely encountered problems with the lack of Flash. All the sites I visit regularly - the BBC, NYT and Wall Street Journal – all of them have quickly made video and rich-media available in iPad-friendly formats.
YouTube is especially iPad-friendly. I’ve yet to encounter a YouTube video the iPad wouldn’t play. And because so many sites use YouTube to embed video, it seems like a lot of the web is iPad-friendly.
The only problems is streaming music from MixRiot (which I use a lot but isn’t exactly mainstream) and playing Farmville and thousands of other Flash games. But given how much time I waste fertilizing my kids’ crops and sending them gifts, that’s actually a blessing.
And it’s only going to get worse for Flash. Look at the chart below from Encoding.com, which does a lot of video encoding for sites like MTV and MySpace. In the last four quarters, Flash video (represented by FLV and Flash VP6) dropped from 69 percent to only 26 percent of all videos. Meanwhile, the H.264 format went from 31 percent to 66 percent, and is now the most popular format by a long shot.