News from Burbank and the APEX TC has been trickling in and we have a few inputs that are a result of the two-day work there. The meeting was hosted by Technicolor in its on-site theater, and the topics and speakers were great – here’s a sampling, and you can see most of the presentations posted online:
·         The keynote was presented by Vince Pizzica, Technicolor’s Head of Corporate Parternships and Ventures.   Among other things, he highlighted the increasing usage of “second screens” (using Internet while watching TV, etc.), especially among the younger generation.
·         A panel for the topic of “Content is Still King” focused on non-traditional audio and video content, such as GeoRadio, MondoWindow, Royal Geographical Society, as well as in-flight gambling.   Dan  Harris of FlightBet said that losses should be capped at about $350/flight and winnings capped $3500/flight… cha-ching!
·         Andy Beer of Inflight Productions gave a very insightful presentation that explained the possible tele-cine artifacts that can get into MPEG movies.
·         Eric Diehl of Technicolor gave an excellent overview of the types of security used to secure content: control, protect, trace, and scout.
·         Bryan Rusenko led the session on HD Video specs being added to APEX Standard 0403.   The TC adopted this spec (version 1.3) and it has now been forwarded to the Board of Directors for adoption consideration. (Editor’s Note: The Board did not approve the spec when we went to press as they wanted to give them sufficient time to review. It will be voted on during the next Board meeting in June (via teleconference) so we are told.)
·         Sam Carswelll of IMS gave an excellent presentation on IMS’ RAVE system and its installation status on 10 airlines.
·         “How do Satellite Systems Really Work” was presented by Dave Brunnenmeyer of Boeing Space and Defense, and Peter Lemme of Mobile Prime Time.
·         Stephan Shulte of LH Technik and Anthony Pilcher of Armstrong Aerospace gave a nice overview of the challenges with integrating and certifying wireless systems onboard.
·         “Payment Technologies” continued to present new ways to use smart cards, and Google Wallet and Dynamics Inc. showed the latest and greatest in electronic credit cards.
·         The meeting wrapped up with a large panel discussion on “Wireless IFE and Portables” led by Mary Kirby of APEX Media.
One conference-goer wrote IFExpress; “This was another great meeting for educational content, with equally great networking and a most enjoyable setting in the Technicolor theater.  The theater was ideal for the playing of movie trailers from the major studios, preceding each of the breaks – making it one of the most memorable TC meetings in recent memory.”

See what you missed!

(Editors Note: On another interesting and somewhat related note that came in from a reader read as follows: “Technicolor, the sponsor of the APEX TC Event is apparently pursuing handheld device patent violators aggressively, according to CNN?”)

Rumors, Rumors, Rumors!

This rumor is so juicy, we had to resurrect our old feature: News from Europe tells IFExpress that IMS has closed a deal for almost 100 wide-body IFE systems. You know how sources exaggerate, however, we think the buy is over 80 planes. Imagine, almost 160 wide body aircraft sales in the last 18 months, and if so, the old IFE paradigm is shifting. Here’s how: If the IMS RAVE product is a considerably less expensive than current inseat video systems (some say up to 50% cheaper) there are two interesting possibilities. One: If IMS has a banner year, those industry total-year- revenue-prognosticators will have to ratchet down their total $ estimates, even though the number of seat IFE sales stays roughly the same. Two: On the other hand, if per seat price for IMS RAVE IFE is lower, bringing new customers (regionals, etc.) into the fray, we might see a jacking-up of the yearly total revenue numbers. If you get hung up on Keneysian economics, this might break the model – lower price competitors and new market entrants could cause the supply and demand equilibrium point to go either way. Having said that, all we know for sure is that a new paradigm shift in IFE is very likely on the way if the IMS troops can deliver what they say. Stay Tuned! “

As usual, the recent NBAA is a source of great story material if bizjets are your thing. Without a doubt, IFE takes a backseat to connectivity at this show, but the business aviation community is all about technology and its value to businesses. One theme that rings true for bizjets (and, no doubt commercial aviation) is “No Plane, No Gain”. While the value of business aircraft and their political ramifications are usually discussed in a “wink, wink, nod, nod” manner by us mortals, they do have their place in business. As an example, the growing business aviation market in China has not escaped the eye of Boeing and Airbus, and thus readers, we thought you might like to check out some of the presentations that will color the future of commercial connectivity.

The NBAA usually has a very robust presentation/panel discussion effort and the 64th Annual Meeting in Las Vegas was no different. Topics from flight safety to aircraft leasing are routinely covered. Of the 32 panel discussion/presentation meetings, we found a few very interesting as they chart a course for inflight connectivity options and practices. We really liked the downloadable PDF’s describing satcom connectivity – “NBAA Connecting Your Aircraft with Satellite Communications: The Equipment Providers” & “NBAA All the Satellite Communication Services You Want: The Multi-Service Providers”; and yes, the Grand Dame of IFE Satellite Connectivity, Elizabeth Young, presided over both. We contacted Liz and she told IFExpress: “Business jets are often the leaders in adapting and adopting new technology.  At this year’s NBAA convention, there was keen interest from the biz jet community in how Inmarsat and Iridium and the manufacturers who offer associated avionics and IFE services are expanding the options for aircraft owners and operators.  While the coming of Ka-band services globally attracted attention, improvements in existing L-band and Ku-band services was also a ‘hot topic’.” In all, 8 PDF’s that tell a good story in total of the present condition of inflight data connectivity, voice, text messaging, and TV for the bizjet environments.

If the next generation of bizjet equipment (avionics, non-IFE and USA slanted) is your thing, try this panel presentation – “NBAA NexGen Equippage

At the show Thrane & Thrane delivered an interesting bizjet price point factoid about their newest satcom data system, AVIATOR, that seemed relevant to the world of inflight connectivity: “2 years ago, 128Kbps of data would have cost $500,000.00. Today, you can get 200Kbps at well under $100,000.00 for an AVIATOR 200 installed!” Now, if you just had a bizjet.

As an aside, the NBAA and pilot/owner members participate in a charity service that cannot be matched, Angel Flight. The free service helps those who need medical attention at remote locations who would not be able to afford or could not travel on commercial aircraft. We also note that the NBAA has come out publicly at the show against a new per-flight user taxes against non-recreational aircraft operators on top of the per-gallon fee on aircraft fuel ($100/flight). Bolen Tells Lawmakers: Industry Supports NextGen, But Not User Fees | NBAA – National Business Aviation Association

And now for something completely different:

IFExpress has been looking quite sometime for a technically updated description of the latest Wi-Fi networks, sans equations. There seems to be little out there that is technical enough but still readable in one setting. Not any more thanks to Ars Technica so we thought we would share it with our readers.

Don’t forget the APEX TC.