UPDATED: Many Content Owners Can’t Afford To Make Their Videos Available For iPad
I responded to many of the comments from this post in a new blog post entitled "Lack Of Flash On The iPad Is Not Due To Any "Shortcomings" With Flash, Blame Apple".
Updated April 2nd: Reading many of the comments on this post it's clear that many just want an excuse to bash Flash. If my content was in Silverlight, would you be saying the same thing? Probably not. You want to bash Flash, go right ahead. But you have no grounds to stand on to tell me there is no additional costs to content owners to support video on the iPad.
Updated May 28th: Sources cited by The New York Post's Claire Atkinson say that Time Warner and several other "large media companies" are forgoing what they claim is an expensive reformatting of their video libraries. So clearly there is a cost here, even many non-content owners want to argue that their isn't.
Yes, Brightcove and other online video platforms can re-encode the content for free, but we only have that option because Brightcove nicely gave us a free account years ago. Before that, we had to encode our content like many content owners do, without using a video platform. So those numbers I outline are in fact very real for a lot of content owners. Many of you are also not addressing the issue of cost with regards to
hosting. You imply that it's easy and cheap to re-encode, yet many
video platforms charge content owners based on the number of assets in
the system each month. So now I am paying for 2x the number of video
clips, EACH MONTH.
And for those that say I can just hire someone some college kid to re-encode the content for cheap, that's my point, I still have to hire someone to do it. Even if I only paid them $10 an hour, how many hours will it take to re-encode thousands of clips? It's not cheap no matter how you slice it.
Too many people also have this notion that "open standards" exist with video, which is flat our wrong. H.264 is not open as it is owned by MPEG LA and encoders and decoders require licensing which is something no one seems to talk about when browser support is debated.
To imply that there is no cost to a content owner or that converting lots of videos for support on the iPad is easy, quick or cheap is ignoring the facts.
If Safari on the iPad supported Flash, as a content owner I would have ZERO costs. As one person said below, "to purposefully want to break the whole web for your gadget is absolutely disingenuous just to stick it to Adobe." And they are right. Apple wants us to believe the reason they don't support Flash is because it's a "CPU hog", yet based on testing we've seen, that's not accurate. This is simply Apple's way of trying to deflect the issue to Adobe when it's has nothing to do with Adobe, the problem lies with Apple.
April 1st: While news sites are very quick to highlight some of the big websites that are making their video content available for the iPad, what about all of the smaller content owners who don't have the resources or money to make that happen? All the talk on the web is about what CNN, New York Times and the other big broadcasters or news sites are doing, yet each day, the majority of websites I visit aren't in the top 50 list of largest portals on the web. What about all of the small and medium sized websites? Why is no one talking about how Apple's lack of support for Flash will impact them?
At StreamingMedia.com, we have roughly 2,500 hours of video in our portal. Video is a big portion of our business, yet it would cost us roughly $15k to have all of our videos re-encoded for the iPad. And we're a small site, with not nearly as much video content when compared to some of the mid-size portals. In addition to the cost for encoding, we'd also have to spend additional dollars and time to make our website available on the iPad, a cost we simply could not afford.
While the large portals can afford to be iPad ready, most video based websites are not going to be able to spend the money to reach a yet undetermined audience for a device that may or may not sell into the multi-millions in the first year. How can a site like ours justify spending upwards of $25k to support just one device on the market? While many large sites have said they will provide support for the iPad, what about sites like Zappos that by the end of this year, will have 50,000 product videos? Or how about eBay? They allow sellers to create and upload their own videos, yet I don't see them rushing to support the iPad as of yet.
For all the talk of how good the "user experience" is on the iPad, I wonder how so many people have forgotten so quickly the enormous reach that video has on the web today. Nearly every website I visit, large or small, has some form of video. What kind of user experience is the iPad going to provide when only the largest websites can display their video content? As a content owner, I want my content to be available via a web browser on as many devices as possible. Having someone like Apple tell content creators that iPad owners can only access their content if they jump through hoops and spend money for development, simply because Apple does not want to support technologies that are already ubiquitous, is bad for both content creators and consumers.