Apple and Google have something in common: They are both furiously trying to protect their content ecosystems. Apple launched the iPad yesterday with no Flash support — meaning the majority of video on the web won’t work on the tablet device, including clips from Hulu.com. (Word is the New York Times demo had a frozen pane for video in the iPad launch presentation, not a pretty sight.) This is not a design oversight; Apple obviously wants you to watch video by downloading it (and paying for it) from iTunes. Apple is telling Adobe, which controls Flash and thus the majority of online video, it’s game on.
Google, as the above ad demonstrates, takes another tact. Mobile phones are filled with handy apps that allow you to get online with a single tap — and oh yes, by the way, pass Google. Who needs to search on mobile with a search engine when a restaurant, news, sports or map icon gets you to web-based information instantly? If anything, the emergence of new tablet devices could make app onramps to the Internet even more popular. So Google has invested in a phone OS and hardware design which notably has a hot key that launches a Google search browser. Then, to educate the public, Google is running full-page ads in Wired magazine trying to convince you that searching via Google on a cell phone is just as important as doing so on a PC screen.
Apple wants you to buy its videos. Google wants you to use its search engine. And you’re learning entirely new devices — smart phones and tablets and soon other task-specific Internet-wired gadgets — that may lead you in entirely new directions. It’s fun to see the current big players in technology so worried as consumers shift their media habits once again. Wonder if old habits will stick.