Aero Technics Blog

Remember to pack your IFE

When Steve Jobs, the legendary CEO of Apple, made his famous “third device” speech back in 2010, you have to wonder how far reaching he thought that product – we’re talking about the Ipad and all the clones that have followed – would be.

Apple saw tablets as the ideal web browser and video-watching device, forseeing a time when we were all in range of 3g, WIFI and, eventually, 4g/LTE signals, connecting us whenever and wherever we are.

And that may also mean onboard aircraft.

Providing in-flight entertainment to passengers has always been a crucial part of the on-board experience and a revenue stream for the airlines. For those that remember the pull-down screens and air-tube headphones prevalent up to the early 1990s, the advances made have just about kept pace with on-street personal entertainment. But each generational change of IFE is expensive, requiring the sort of extensive wiring and seat changing that can only be done on major overhauls.

Except now that may all be about to change, again.

Passengers with smartphones, tablets, laptops and portable games consoles are effectively bringing their own IFE systems on board. So, is there a future where all the airlines have to do is provide them with content streamed via wifi and, of course, charging them for the privilege?

Well maybe – but it might not be that simple. Obviously, there will be many passengers who, for whatever reason, don’t have a device with them – that could be easily solved by renting out tablets at check-in.

The bigger problem will be viewable content and generating revenue from it. Passengers will bring their favourite movies, music and games with them but that’s of no interest to the airline. What they need to do is provide content that isn’t available elsewhere such as first-show movies – exactly as they do now. But, streaming high-quality prints of these movies into passenger’s personal devices would be the Studios’ worst nightmare and the stuff of dreams to the pirate industry.

Portable devices, connected to secure networks – such as AuraConnected – are clearly the future of revenue-deriving IFE but perhaps a whole new way of thinking about content is needed?

This entry was posted on Monday, August 13th, 2012 at 7:47 pm and is filed under Industry News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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