The iPad’s Certain Impact On Real Estate Photography

January 29th, 2010

If you watched Steve Jobs demonstrate the iPad Wednesday you may have noticed while he browsed through the New York Times there was little blue cube on the screen. This is what the iPhone operating system (the iPad uses iPhone OS) displays when it encounters a Flash component on a page. It’s saying, “I don’t know how to display Flash”.

It doesn’t much matter whether you like the iPad or not, it’s pretty clear from the price of the entry level model ($499) the features and huge potential user base that in the very near future, there will be a horde of people using iPads to browse the web. To put it a little differently, if you are a real estate photographer I can guarantee you that by the end of the year you will have clients and home buyers trying to look at your work with an iPad. The key word here is TRYING… They won’t be able to if you stick with Flash only tours and galleries.

If you have Flash tours or Flash galleries on your website they will all just look like the blue cube above on iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads. And if you have 360 tours that use Flash players (most do these days) they will be blue cubes too. Ouch!

Well, you say, how can Apple do that? Adobe should just get tough with Apple and make them support Flash. Adobe has been trying to work this issue with Apple for a couple of years and so far has lost. As long as  the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad user population is expanding at 6.5 million a quarter Apple is going to have it’s way.

Apple and Google are trying to get developers to use HTML5, to do all the things that Flash does, and in fact the Safari and Chrome browsers have good, fast implementations of HTML5. The problem is other browsers (like IE7 and IE8) have pretty bad implementations of HTML5. While developing we found that to get a smooth look for Ken Burns panning on all browsers we had to use Slideshow Pro and automatically switch to HTML5 only when the tour is being viewed with an iPhone.

I’m not sure what the way out of this is going to be but it’s very clear that the iPad announcement raises the stakes on this Apple/Adobe Flash argument significantly. Don’t you wish we could just work things out like adults?

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31 Responses to “The iPad’s Certain Impact On Real Estate Photography”

  • Just curious, Larry. Have you any idea of whether or not the iPad can be used for tethered shooting?

  • @DC-Initially no. But It has a USB adapter and if the SDK (developers kit) has the required interfaces it’s conceivable that someone could write an application for shooting tethered.

  • Amen! I’ve read other blog articles about how the iPad is going to be so amazing for photographers. None of them included this point which I believe is going to put more light onto the problem of Flash-only websites. So many photographers do their navigation, images, contact forms, etc ALL in Flash.

  • @Julia- It’s not just Flash-only websites that are a problem (I know of very few Flash only sites), almost every real estate virtual tour I know of cannot be viewed from the iPad because the slideshows are Flash components embedded in HTML sites. The iPad basically renders virtual tours inoperative!

  • Apple lost ground to Windows media and then Flash by not aggressively marketing QuickTime as a free media viewer. Now they are playing catch-up by limiting multimedia viewing on iPhone/iPad to QuickTime. Javascript can be used to play slideshows on iPhone (and I assume on iPad) and QuickTime Pro can be used to convert and embed iPhone viewable video. Virtual tours with-out Flash are certainly doable and I would think any smart commercial programmer would be working to develop an easy-to-use substitute for Flash tours that are iPhone/iPad and desktop friendly. HTML5 and/or CSS animation may be a substitute for Flash at some point, but with the still dominate market share of IE and its glacial-paced support for new developments, javascript/QuickTime are likely the most productive methods to deliver multimedia to the widest variety of hardware/software platforms.

  • I’m definitely going to buy an iPad, just not now. I’m waiting for most of these issues to be worked out before I make my purchase.

  • I’ve been poring over your links to video hosting services that will support OSX “mobile”, so far no luck. Does anyone have an answer to this? Maybe there is a way to embed videos through .mac

  • YouTube videos work on all Apple mobile devices (iPod touch, iPhone, iPad).

  • Unfortunately YouTube isn’t mls compliant.

  • Given how much of the web is using flash, it’s nuts that Apple have not yet supported it – this has annoyed millions of ipod touch and iphone users, and will now cause many to boycott the ipad until this has been sorted out. To me the ipad was a huge disappointment, I expected it to run OS X. All it is, is an oversized ipod touch!

  • […] The Photography for Real Estate blog raises an interesting point: If your real estate marketing is Flash-dependent (that would be in your virtual tours, etc.), you’ve got some thinking to do. Your photos already aren’t making it to the iPhone, and soon they won’t be making it to the iPad, either. (Just in passing: engenu uses Javascript, for two reasons: Flash don’t travel and Flash don’t search. Lo-tech don’t mean no-tech.) […]

  • […] The Photography for Real Estate blog raises an interesting point: If your real estate marketing is Flash-dependent (that would be in your virtual tours, etc.), you’ve got some thinking to do. Your photos already aren’t making it to the iPhone, and soon they won’t be making it to the iPad, either. (Just in passing: engenu uses Javascript, for two reasons: Flash don’t travel and Flash don’t search. Lo-tech don’t mean no-tech.) […]

  • Here’s the problem. The multitude of folks buying touchs, iphones, and ipads don’t, and won’t blame Apple for the failure of flash to work. They’ll just move on to content that isn’t flash based. Apple wins by default. If folks behave as Steve Jobs hopes they will, content will avoid flash all together and be programmed in html5.

    Steve Jobs called Adobe “Lazy” on Friday, according to reports from his town hall meeting in Cupertino. That doesn’t bode well for the flash folks.

  • Is anyone developing or has developed an html5 viewer for 360 pans?

  • I think the IPad will be of huge use to the Real Estate Industry, I think virtual tours in their current iteration will not be the key component for RE photographers for now at least until there is a new display format for IPhone and Ipad as flash will not be ported to those devices. It will be some component of HTML5. Initially it will be how their pictures are displayed on the app for the IPhone and ITouch as well as the app for commercial property. They will be a huge game changer. You can see property based upon “Location Based Services” meaning if you have 3G you can see property anywhere as well as the pictures of the property while you are out in the field. As a RE Broker also, I see myself taking out a client for a tour of properties and using an IPad to look up info on properties that I may not be showing. This gives the Realtor total control over the info when they are with clients and the consumer even more control when they are on their own. My 2 cents worth.

  • @Dave, Well said. I agree. AND there is a display format.. We use it for tours on Note that any tour you create on (like this one: ) will work on any browser AND on iPhone AND on iPad (although we won’t have access to a iPad to verify it for several months). The reason it works on everything is on all browsers and iPhone and iPad is it uses Flash on everything that supports Flash and automatically switches to javascript on iPhone and iPad.

  • The real reason Apple doesn’t use Flash is to avoid future complications, which is what a forward thinking business does. Flash crashes the mac, AND has outlived its usefulness. We don’t get much for consistently updating Flash, and why does it have controls that are allowed to utilize our webcams and microphones? I have privacy issues with that. Regardless, IE has never really followed web standards and even though most people use it, it holds back better technology for no good reason. It’s 2010 my friends, viruses, malware, silly animations, non-standards, they should all be a thing of the past just like floppy disks. HTML5 means ANY browser that follows Standards will have the same advanced implementations without worry. The ‘let’s use what everyone else does’ without needs for standards method, that seems to be championed by Flash & IE lovers, does not help everyone move forward, it’s simply a lateral move that impedes progress. I’m for good solutions moving forward, not what only works this second.

  • Apple just might’ve hammered in the first nail on Flash’s coffin (at least Flash as we know it now). Many developers are well on their way to use HTML5 for dynamic effects, so expect a barrage of development for things like slideshows, virtual tours, etc. If IE doesn’t get its act together and start creating a product that actually works, then start seeing less and less use of it even by the non-savvy Internet public.

    Real Estate photographers in St. Louis already understand the difficulty that flash proposes. I don’t know how many times I’ve jumped on a client’s laptop to see that they don’t have flash installed, or a client say that they can’t see it on their work computer (because of firewalls blocking flash).

    Flash is not done, but its demise is nearing..

  • Everything will depend on how well the IPAD sells.
    I think the impact can be very positive in terms of home searching.

  • I have a website that host virtual tours in Java, Quicktime and Flash and I am not concerned about Apple not supporting flash. Apple has been down this road before. They had a great desktop and they closed everyone out and they lost, big time. This is the same thing. Apple thinks they can control the end user and they can’t. People will move onto the next device that meets there needs better. Apple has a couple of big issues on its hands. 1. They are more fashion than substance and fashion is of the moment. Rarely does fashion last for more than a few years and peters off. 2. The competition has not only caught up to the iphone it has largely passed it. Palm Pre, Android Phones, Blackberrys are all as capable or more capable than the iphone. You will see the Iphones market share shrink in 2010 or 2011. Why? Because it is time for the fashion to change and while everyone else is offering openness and flexibility Apple is still offering the same old fashion and the opposite of openness. They are fighting Adobe, Google, Microsoft and the consumer.

  • Flash does not work on Mac well for a good reason and it is not Adobe it is Apple. Apple refuses access to certain kernel layers that flash needs. Why? Good question because Quicktime must have access to these same layers. Is flash perfect, no but what is? Flash is not going away anytime soon and will be around long after Apple looses it small but significant market share to others that do not impose unfounded limitations on its users.

  • @Kineard- Everything of coarse depends on the iPad’s popularity. But indications are that that sales are going to be huge. If I were a betting man I would not bet on Apple loosing market share because they don’t support Flash on iPhone and iPad.

    Dealing with the lack of Flash on the iPhone and iPad is not is not a difficult technical problem. On the tours that my partners and I are developing ( we already (works today) handle the issue. We run tours in Flash for those browsers that support Flash and for the iPhone and iPad we display the same tour in HTML. Of coarse this hasn’t been tested on the iPad yet but my guess is the iPad will work right out of the box because today the iPhone works and the iPad has the same OS. We’ll probably have to do something special to deal with the iPad’s larger screen size.

  • Larry I don’t understand why you feel the IPad will be popular. This product has been launched before and each time it has flopped. Newton, apples first attempt at this product failed perhaps for reasons that no longer apply. Apple is asking people to carry a computer around without a key board that will not fit in your pocket at a cost of $500. If it wore $50 – $150 I would have two or three laying around my house and in my care for convince. But for more than the cost of a reasonably good laptop, I am not not going to bother. Probably more of a problem for the iPad than laptops is netbooks which are now available for less than $200 and I do not even want to get into the competition tablets are facing but I will. Camangi $275, Archos 280, iPod $180, PORTEGE M200 more of a laptop $490 and the list is growing.
    I could be wrong I never thought Amazon would sell 3 million Kindles, I guess there are a lot of avid readers.
    I still stand by my view that the smart phone industry will significantly fragment regardless if Apple continues to be a bunch of communist or not.

  • Larry I looked at your flash tours and they are very good and I can see how you could turn that into HTML very easy. How every how do you put something like this into to HTML. Oh I can watch this on my phone.

  • Kineard: “Apple thinks they can control the end user and they can’t. People will move onto the next device that meets there needs better”.

    Well said Kineard! Couldn’t agree more.. When will people understand this? Apple is trying to force feed it’s own customers and they continue to be lemmings for this company? You WILL be assimilated.

  • I found a fun piece of code for iPad. It is an example of how to swap a Flash SWF with an image if your user agent is an iPad.

  • A concept 360 VR viewer programmed with HMTL5 already exists, the problem is that it depends on the WebGL extension, and that isn’t available in regular Safari yet, let alone mobile Safari. You have to install Webkit on OSX, (or enable beta WebGL support in Firefox) to get it to function.

  • Flash certainly is on the way out. We saw this coming some time ago at iFloorplan. And yes people will certainly want to shop for real estate on the iPad and do already on the iPhone and iPod touch. The only way is to use the new standards – JavaScript, CSS and HTML. Virtual tours are almost always in Flash. Some of the new mobile real estate web sites don’t even show the link to virtual tours for fear of the little blue cube. That is frustrating for us at because we have spent time and money making sure flash free browsers display our tours just as they should.

  • Well it seems that Apple was right! With over 2 million in under 60 days, consumers are buying it. I am a Realtor and on the hunt for a VT company that will run in HTML5. I own an iPad and it is GREAT for realtors. I do my listing presentation on it an use it or my iphone to capture signatures. My only hold up is my MLS requires IE and active X controls.

    Anyway, I would say the first company that will get an HTML 5 VT going will be a big winner! Also, I mean a real VT not just a panning photo.

  • Interesting article about the Apple selling 65 million iPads in 2011. Making sure your website is “apple friendly” is a must (also having a html5 player to fallback to when doing video, slideshows etc) or you will absolutely lose business as apple sales continue to rise.

    While some might think this is not important, it would be a shame when your client comes to you after THEIR client has complained that they cant see the multimedia for their house….because its in flash and they are using an iPad. Telling them that they will have to use a PC or anything else but an Apple product wont go over too well if I was a betting man……

    I have been coming to this site for years for advice from Larry, and to be honest I was totally against this whole “apple friendly” idea when he brought it up, even commented against it in his blogs. In the end I made sure I had a backup plan just in case apple continued their “no flash” route and thank god (and of course Larry) I did.

    here is a link to the article:

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