Netflix for iPad: A Pleasant Surprise, Hope for Flash

Netflix comes to the iPad

San Jose, CA  —  Last Saturday, when the iPad made its premiere, fellow Genius, Zander and I drew a small crowd in the crowded Apple Store at the Oakridge Mall on Blossom Hill as we expounded the virtues and vices (though few) of the new iPad. Perhaps it was because from the moment we got our hands on it, we couldn’t stop talking about it! “Strange! It’s smaller and heavier than I imagined,” I started. And while I began to complain about the dull pain in my left arm as I typed, Zander pointed out that, despite the weight, its size would be its most endearing quality for many.

Our comments, audible to many in the crammed store, made people recognized us as “geniuses” and we began fielding questions ranging from the iPad’s lack of multi-tasking and Flash to whether it would support expandable memory.

And though it was the first time I had held that particular iPad, nothing seemed to catch me by surprise — nothing, that was, until I noticed the Netflix app.

As I hadn’t yet heard of the Netflix app, it seemed out of place as I selected it from the iPad home screen. But what surprised me most was its performance! As a subscriber, it took only seconds to enter my user information, select a movie from the home screen and begin watching. In fact, it seemed to perform even BETTER than the “watch instantly” function that I frequent on my computer (which is free as part of my Netflix subscription).

Reflecting upon the iPad as Zander and I walked out of the store, I kept returning, in my mind, to the Netflix app. Initially intrigued though I was, it didn’t take long to realize the company’s motivation in creating the app. As a Flash dependent site, Netflix could either make this step to bring their business to the iPad or die at the hands of their newly disinterested and frustrated constituency.

This, I believe, is the nature of the predicament that many Flash dependent companies face today. They can make the laborious shift to HTML5, which is Apple’s suggested approach as they now do battle with Adobe, or they can design apps which natively integrate their content with the iPad. While Netflix may ultimately convert their site to run on HTML5, they have made an ingenious decision to now bring this new app into the fray to help close the time gap caused by the move to HTML5.

This decision is not unexpected, however. It was the move which Youtube made, making their app standard on all Apple mobile devices, and now it is Netflix’s move. This choice, I believe, might even be part of the reason why, on Monday (4/5), Netflix stock (NASDAQ : NFLX) leaped 6.65% to $79.99 a share — an increase approximately equal to the entire growth seen this past March.

MOST INTERESTING, however, is what this may ultimately mean for Netflix and other sites alike: FLASH DEPENDENT SITES MAY NOT NEED TO CHANGE TO HTML5 AS APPLE WOULD LIKE. Though Apple’s product popularity gives them powerful influence on internet consumption, I believe this is not the “death knell” of Flash. A game changer though it may be, Apple’s refusal to support it, while also allowing sites to make apps which run their content, does not represent the complete abolition of Flash as has been previously anticipated.

If Flash fails on the internet level, not necessarily the video delivery level, it will be due to its drawbacks as a code, NOT because the “Church of Apple” decrees it to be so.

Want to find out more?!

Visit the websites of the companies discussed in this article: Netflix, Apple, Adobe.

Download / Check out the Netflix app from the iTunes Store!

JOIN THE DEBATE! Let us know what you think! Have you gotten your hands on the new iPad? What are your thoughts on the Netflix move to app based content?