Asset Manager Web Sites Lose Their Flash On iPad

The eagerly anticipated Apple iPad just may force a rethinking of asset managers’ reliance on Adobe Flash Player as a means of delivering some much-needed life and vitality to their Web sites.

In an industry not known for its innovation online, Flash-based presentations on a home page or on a financial advisor home page have been the go-to site enhancement on mutual fund sites. Given their young age, almost all exchange-traded fund (ETF) sites employ Flash in some way.

If your site uses Flash, you're not going to be happy with how your pages display through Apple's Safari browser on the iPad.

Apple’s lack of support for Flash and other Web plug-ins on the iPad is consistent with its lack of support for Flash on the iPhone. According to Apple’s guidelines for preparing content for the iPad, only HTML5 tags can be used to deliver audio and video content in Safari. The stated purpose of HTML5, the next generation markup language for the Web and not Apple-specific, is to reduce the need for proprietary plug-ins like the Flash player from Adobe.

Below we show examples from DWS Investments and WisdomTree, but the problems prevail across industry sites viewed on the iPad.

DWS Investments' Home Page With Flash...

DWS Investments' gorgeous Flash-heavy site includes the Financial Weather Report that we include among the Rock The Boat Marketing best practices. The first shot below is of its home page as viewed on a PC; the second is the stripped down version (and note the Adobe Flash Player link above) as seen on the iPad.


...And The Same Home Page On The iPad


WisdomTree Home Page With Flash...

WisdomTree's outstanding videos are front and center on its home page. On the iPad, the prime real estate is just empty.


...And The Same Home Page On The iPad


We find this predicament especially unfortunate because we're familiar with the work involved in the storyboarding and production iterations required for Compliance review. But, we think you're going to want to produce an alternative to Flash presentations just as soon as possible.

The iPad is first-generation and in the hands of just a few hundred thousand users today--as your corporate IT team (few of whom are likely to be Apple "fanboys") may point out to you.

Your comeback? Prior to the launch, Apple was predicting 10 million unit sales in 2010 and there are already 75 million iPhone/iPod Touch users. The largest media sites including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, CBS have been driven to redesign, either eliminating their use of Flash or offering a non-Flash alternative.

This is an appropriate concern and we recommend that you and your Web developers collaborate on a plan that considers users of Apple mobile devices.

If you'd like to see how your own site or others' look on the iPad, iPadPeek is a Web site that provides a preview. Be sure to disable your Web browser’s Flash plug-in (follow the directions from this Mashable post).

The screenshots in this post, by the way, were created on my iPad. It was a dark and rainy Saturday morning when the UPS driver brought color and layout and photos back into my life via the delivery of the iPad.


The Amazon Kindle is intended primarily for reading books, I know. But I've been using it for my daily newspaper delivery. Since 2007, I’ve been reading The Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune in the (original) Kindle's color-less and mostly closed environment.

I missed a lot that I used to love about the morning paper ritual, but the Kindle was convenient and environment-friendly and I was willing to suffer for that.

But the arrival of the iPad means the end of compromise for me. So far, the iPad has lived up to my every expectation in meeting my indulgence of wanting to read the news (the WSJ application and the Tribune Web site) on a colorful tabloid-size screen even while multiple computers are elsewhere in the house.

I brought my iPad to my family's Easter celebration (what a great way to collect the whole family's fingerprints!). "What do you mean it can't print?" my sister asked. "But, is it that much better than your iPod Touch?" my brother-in-law wanted to know.

I love the iPad. Beyond that, I'll leave the reviews to the reviewers. And I'll leave this post by encouraging you to get your hands on the iPad. Once you do, you'll see how (and maybe why) the iPad has already motivated some companies to elevate their game, to provide richer experiences. They want to be ready for whatever this new form factor sends their way--and that's where you and your site need to be.

On Friday, May 7, Pat will be moderating a "Connecting Today: How Asset Managers Are Using Social Media and Why" session at ICI's 2010 Operations and Technology Conference.