2011 saw a proliferation of airlines running in-service trials and some starting to deploy consumer electronic tablet products onboard their aircraft.
A number of industry commentators have made sweeping statements that tablets will replace conventional embedded IFE systems, however, these statements may well be too binary in their outlook.
With the increasing evolution of consumer PED devices and the commencement of wireless content streaming to those devices – trends that were very evident at last year’s APEX EXPO – studios fear unscrupulous passengers recording everything shown on a PED through capture processes such as “screen-scraping”.
Whilst initially cautious about the use of early-window content (pre-DVD release movie content) on airline-supplied consumer devices, such as iPads, the various issues have been worked through and Jetstar’s iPads went into revenue service in November with early-window content approved by the majority of the major Hollywood studios.
Studios are opposed to any form of wireless transmission of content to passengers own PEDs until such time that the required level of output protection has been established and demonstrated to their satisfaction.
I asked the panel what opportunities they saw for airlines, content providers and customers, triggered by the introduction of consumer electronics on the aircraft?
Delta VP of eCommerce Bob Kupbens says, “For me it’s this great opportunity for customised content to get to customers; engagement to occur in a way that’s never happened before. For content providers there’s this ability for people to be engaged with content that they want, and for customers it’s about choice. If I want to go to sleep I can go to sleep; if I want to watch a movie I can watch a movie; if I want to engage with an app that’s based on my device I can engage with that; if I want to get specific and localised content I can do that.”
Paramount Pictures VP Non-theatrical distribution Mark Horton says, “The studio groups are really excited by these new developments. We’ve been embracing the new technology, as it’s been launching over the last decade. We think there’s 10,000 or more aircraft flying that don’t have entertainment, which means for us as a content provider we’ve got some growth in the market, and with the new systems we’ve got the ability to provide more varied content.”
Panasonic Avionics executive director, corporate sales and product management Neil James says, “Some airlines want wireless as well [as their embedded IFE systems] because they want to embrace those devices that people bring onboard themselves.”
You can hear the full APEX session from the 2012 CES at the following link:
My thanks once again to the panellists without whom the event would not have been possible: Travis Christ (Chief Sales Officer, Row 44), Stuart Dunleavy (VP Marketing & Customer Proposition, Thales Avionics), Ash ElDifrawi (EVP of Marketing, Gogo LLC), Mark Horton (VP, Non-theatrical Distribution, Paramount Pictures), Neil James (Executive Director, Corporate Sales & Product Management, Panasonic Avionics Corporation), Bob Kupbens (VP of eCommerce, Delta Air Lines) and Jörg Liebe (CIO, Lufthansa Systems AG).