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Apple's iPad marketing sparks complaint to FTC

By Stephen Lawson
January 29, 2010 08:21 PM ET

IDG News Service - Apple's iPad, announced Wednesday, has already led to one complaint to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in which a consumer charged Apple with false advertising by showing Adobe Flash working on the device.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad to a waiting world this week after months of speculation and rumors about the slim tablet computer, and Apple's marketing machine has continued to roll since then. At its launch event in San Francisco, Apple showed a video of people using the device, and a series of images of the iPad dominates the company's home page.

But those promotions are misleading, according to Paul Threatt, a Web and graphic designer who lives near Atlanta. Both show the iPad displaying elements of the online New York Times that cannot be viewed without Flash, even though the device apparently doesn't support that software.

"I don't hold anything against them for not supporting Flash," Threatt said. "It'd be great if they did, but what I don't want them to do is misrepresent the device's capabilities."

Flash is used to deliver multimedia, games and other content on many Websites. In fact, Adobe says more than 70 percent of all games and 75 percent of all video on the Web uses Flash. But it appears that the iPad, like the iPhone and iPod Touch, doesn't support that format. In a live demonstration at Wednesday's launch event, icons that show a missing plug-in popped up on the iPad's screen when Jobs was showing off the Web front page of the New York Times. Adobe was not approached by Apple before the product was announced, Adobe spokesman Stefan Offermann said, indicating Flash is probably not in the works for the shipping version of the iPad, due to hit stores in about 60 days.

However, some of the same New York Times content that wouldn't display during the live demonstration shows up just fine in a promotional video and one of the pictures on Apple's home page, Threatt pointed out. A collection of still images halfway down the Times front page, which represent segments on the site's video section, need Flash to appear but are visible as a user looks over the front page in the Apple clip. Likewise, a slideshow of images accompanying the article "The 31 Places to Go in 2010" require Flash, yet one of those pictures shows up in the promotional video and an image of the iPad on Apple's page. (In another twist, in the video, the slideshow begins at what appears to be the 14th image, even though on the Web it starts with the first picture.)

Reprinted with permission from IDG.net. Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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