Opening Day at Poodle Springs!


With a new format, the World Airline Entertainment Association annual big show kicked-off the conference in Palm Springs. First day is now devoted for intro’s, updates, inflight entertainment discussion panels, and a full day of meetings that covered topics from airborne connectivity to passenger generated profits. Tomorrow begins the fun part – show schmoozing, booths, and individual product rollouts that promise to be very interesting in these tough economic times. To be sure, airline profit is a lost word, and almost every pitch here revolves around how to squeeze another penny from the traveling public. And why not…as this issue of AVION Magazine pointed out, IFE is the second most expensive system on new commercial aircraft (engines are first). Most airlines are hemorrhaging money so next year it’s payback time and passengers will be doing the paying. The new gadgets are center stage here and while we can’t officially get in to the booths today and report on what we see, we keep hearing about goodies that our readers will be most interested in. Soooo not to tip off who told us what, here is a small rundown of what we are about to see, reported by sources with no names!

  • Someone has invented a way to avoid the $800k seat certification and still provide a retrofitted in-seat power solution – this is very cool!
  • Rumors still abound about a new DC (USB) power network.
  • There is a supplier who has developed a pico-projector (bizjets) IFE screen.
  • There is a new smart card system that allows passengers to “buy” credits from an airline for use on the plane or ground. IFE vendors have spent millions to solve the card swipe security issue.

In the coming months, we plan to follow up on many of the new products and services showcased at the WAEA – Stay Tuned!

Lastly, here is a hot scoop from Row44, the Ku Band aircraft Internet specialist. It seems that the company has developed a so-called “walled garden” for airline customers. Loosely translated, the “walled garden” in this context is a fee free bit of Internet browsing available to customers who don’t want to shell out about 10 bucks for Internet that lasts one battery charge cycle during a flight. Dubbed Skytown Center, at no charge, passengers get flight info, destination info, a couple games, travel info, SkyMall and the Home Shopping Network. Eventually to be airline branded, Skytown Center will also include the ability to deliver text messaging to ground devices at a price point approximately 50% below the $10 to $13 Internet fee. Obviously an advertising paid service, this is a clever marketing attempt to give Row44 airlines a way to get their customers to use their laptops and Smartphones – good idea. Row44 has also assigned a partner for each of these areas that does the heavy lifting in their own area of expertise. The image accompanying this story is a snapshot of the portal that, when airline branded, will show up on passenger’s laptops and on Smartphone screens.

Eratta : We got a lot of justifiable static last issue because we didn’t have our satellite rates (bits per second and kilobits per second) correct. Here is a link to some satcom bit rates that we covered in the Hot Topic. We guess that this is the price for free news!

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