Tag Archives: in-flight entertainment

DMD Phantom and Bluebox
Lock it In at the APEX/IFSA EXPO

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Tablets were hot on the trade show floor at this year’s APEX/IFSA EXPO. Bluebox Avionics, a partner in platform innovation with DMD Phantom had a busy trade show, showing off their new Bluebox hybrid, an in-flight entertainment (IFE) system that allows streaming to integrate with pre-loaded early window content. This highly secure functionality gives movie providers the peace of mind that their content is exclusive and passenger the freedom to be connected while still enjoying the airline perks of newly released entertainment.

Bluebox Ai is the award-winning secure IFE application for iPad and iPad mini, run on airline-owned devices, allowing airlines control of their content. Bluebox wiFE is the unique cabin streaming solution co-developed with Cobham Aerospace Communications. Together these applications offer high quality entertainment experience for passengers either fitted or portable locked in, secure content for airlines.

Kevin Clark of Bluebox took us through the application demonstrating the games, magazines, audio and visuals securely loaded onto the tablet. Airlines are able to brand the software to align with their image giving passengers a holistic experience and no shortage of entertainment options. It was a busy EXPO for DMD Phantom and Bluebox, “never a dull moment on the trade show floor,” laughs Clark.

OnAir and Philippine Airlines Renew Partnership at APEX/IFSA EXPO

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Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced their continued partnership with OnAir on September 17th at the APEX/IFSA EXPO to bring Wi-Fi and Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) onto all of their A330 and select A340 fleets. They have started removing embedded in-flight entertainment in business class on A330s in favor of the new connectivity service. Passengers can access a range of movies and television programs onboard through the wireless system using their own devices, and so far the response from customers has been positive.

PAL1Ana Leah Rodriguez, head of Marketing and Ancillary Revenue for Philippine Airlines, explained that for certain markets like the Middle East this is the right option for the company. “On selected routes and aircraft, OnAir allows PAL to give a different type of service and concept in business class,” Rodriguez said.

CEO of OnAir, Ian Dawkins, agrees with Rodriguez and believes this change is the way of the future. “I believe Philippine Airlines are setting the benchmark which other airlines will follow in coming years,” Dawkins said.

PAL

OnAir Play, a wireless entertainment media solution, was introduced onboard PAL in May this year, and PAL’s B77-300ER aircraft are also equipped with Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir. As Dawkins adds, “There is no better proof of an airline’s confidence in your products than a follow-on fleet extension order within a short timeframe.”

APEX EXPO Recap with KID Systeme

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On the last day of the APEX/IFSA EXPO, KID Systeme announced the launch of the trial of SKYfi, its wireless in-flight entertainment system, on five of Cebu Pacific Air’s A330 aircraft. They also found out that they’ll soon be able to announce a new deal with an unnamed Gulf carrier. We caught up with Maren Muente, PR & Communications for KID Systeme, to hear about her experience at the show.

How has the APEX/IFSA EXPO been for you?

Fantastic.

What do you hope to get out of the EXPO as a vendor?

Coming to the APEX, it has a conference character, and because it’s a B2B market and  especially a niche market, you know that you will find exactly the right people to talk to. You know who will be there, and you know you will have progress at the show and meet the people you need. That’s always what we know to expect from APEX, it’s always a very good show.

How has this EXPO been different from previous EXPOs?

This exhibition was constantly strong, from the first to the last day. I didn’t attend the educational sessions, so I don’t know how that was, but the exhibition was great. We had a nice flow – a lot of airlines,  and super good conversations with the right decision-makers. We had a lot of press interest, we had a good spot here in the hall, the organization was professional, and the people are great. So, this EXPO was different because there was a constant flow over the whole three days, our product got promoted, and we are very happy.

Were there any standout moments or highlights?

Yes, a special moment for KID Systeme of course was the last day due to our press release; we announced our trial with Cebu Airlines, which was great. There was also a lot of progress in how people present themselves, how they present the companies, the booths, and the technology – you can tell there was a ramp up. And there’s competition of course, which is good! I passed some stands and I’m amazed by how good everything looks and how well everything works – it’s nice, it’s good progress.

Do you have any feedback?

The concentration on in-flight entertainment (IFE) is exactly the right thing and exactly what people need when they come to APEX. It’s nice that there are side topics like catering and comfort, but the main topic should always be IFE. It is the essential marketing topic for the passenger cabin and experience and important for the airlines, it should always be key.

Would you say IFE is the most important topic in the industry right now? 

IFE is very important because it’s something that is experiencing a revolution at the moment. But looking at aircraft interiors all in all, everything is important. You have to work on seats, you have to work on comfort. The passenger needs to be comfortable; traveling should be comfortable. But at the moment IFE is so revolutionary, that it is a focus.

IN CONVERSATION:
APEX EXPO WITH TERRY STEINER

TerryTerry Steiner
President
Terry Steiner International, Inc.

Terry has been involved in the marketing and distribution of motion pictures and television for over 20 years. Prior to founding TSI in 1993, Terry managed the Non-Theatrical Sales Division of Orion Pictures. Before entering the world of non-theatrical, Terry served as media director for both MGM/UA and Paramount Pictures. She has since established excellent relationships with potential buyers on a worldwide basis as well as with producers of fine quality programming.

In your opinion, what is the single most important issue facing the passenger experience industry today?
Ensuring passengers have comfortable personal space.

Where do you see the entertainment industry headed in the future?
From a business perspective, we see more and more new opportunities develop as technology advances.

Biggest challenge you’ve ever overcome at work?
Having impossible bosses!

What’s the one item you can’t travel without?
Earplugs and chocolate.

Fail-proof travel tip?
Upgrade whenever possible. Comfort is key.

Two things you miss most about home when you’re traveling?
My daughter, my husband and my dog.

Regular meal or specialty?
Sushi every Wednesday night. I cannot cook anything, my husband is in charge of the kitchen.

Favorite wine?
Terra Noble Sauvignon Blanc from Chile

Last place you traveled to for fun?
Paris, last Christmas vacation.

The scariest situation you’ve ever been in?
Dorm fire in college where I saved someone’s life.

Three things of no value that you will never get rid of?
Photos and videos, the fake engagement ring my husband gave me until we found a real one just like it, and the ring stand my daughter made for me when she was three.

One thing you wished people cared more about?
Having empathy for other people and realizing that not everyone can behave or react to situations the way you would.

Old television shows you can tolerate endless re-runs of?
Columbo, Law and Order, West Wing, and Upstairs Downstairs.

Describe the view from your favorite window.
My office view on West 57th Street in New York City – a perfect vista of city life with constant sights and sounds of the city. Also a perfect combination of historically beautiful old and new New York, with new buildings going up all around us.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in the IFE industry?
Be open to talk to everyone, and don’t burn any bridges!

Channel Power

In his 1954 short story, “Sales Pitch,” sci-fi visionary Philip K. Dick envisioned a future with invasive, omnipresent ads that “glittered and gibbered, like ghosts of distant video-stations” all around us. If that sounds a bit like your last experience on an airplane, you’re not alone.

Airlines and content providers may not have perfected the art of zapping “visual ads” into our brains, but in a world where practically every touchpoint of our travel experience is branded by corporations, is it any wonder that the trend would extend to the content of our in-flight entertainment (IFE)?

Hollywood studios and TV networks have long been airing branded content on dedicated IFE channels, and British Airways’ recent launch of a dedicated HBO channel has even introduced the concept of “binge watching” award-winning HBO series like Girls and Game of Thrones to passengers throughout the UK. But lately, edgy internet-era upstarts like Virgin’s Boing Boing TV and Funny or Die’s slate of “Mile High with Funny or Die” clips are joining the fray as well.

Some branded channels, like GoPro Network, have performed so well in the air that they’re now pursuing traditional, ground-based distribution.

Though the trend seems to be growing, and the financial upside for airlines is vast, the potential for passenger backlash from viewers who feel they are being sold to rather than entertained is an ongoing concern – especially in today’s social media-savvy world where authenticity rules.

“As with other digital media, there is always the danger where branded IFE may alienate [passengers] by providing … too much advertising,” says Stathis Kefallonitis, founder and president of branding.aero. Kefallonitis cautions that “brand-over-information” can create a “noisy, unpleasant experience” that is often reflected back on the airline brand.

One of the surest ways to combat that problem, Kefallonitis says, is for content providers to focus on generating top-notch, original material.

Michael Garrity, the Senior Sales Manager at National Geographic Channels Network International says he couldn’t agree more. “Having original content is definitely important to keeping your branded offering fresh and relevant to the airlines and I would agree that it extends to the passengers as well. The potential to turn passengers off is definitely a risk of having a branded presence and that is why working closely with the airline on what goes in to it is important.”

“Our approach is to offer airlines as much of a National Geographic presence on-board as an airline would like. We let the airlines tell us about their passengers and what they are looking for,” adds Garrity. “We’ve done packages for airlines with a concentration on family entertainment and others that were geared towards males who are adventurous thrill seekers. Some of these include custom intros with Nat Geo on-air talent or unique branded products for giveaways and other promotions onboard.”

But at the end of the day, both Kefallonitis and Garrity agree that the trend towards branded IFE channels is all about standing out in a crowded marketplace.

“From our experience it seems airlines are using brand affiliations as a way to differentiate their IFE content,” Garrity explains.

“With the volume of content available onboard aircraft, well known entertainment brands are another way for passengers to quickly find content they want to see … [and] instantly get an idea of what a program will be like just by seeing the brand associated with it.”

And in today’s global economy, cool, unique brands know no boundaries. In fact, Kefallonitis says that in most cases, passengers actually prefer watching branded IFE content from brands they perceive as being different.

“Passenger choices demonstrate resistance to widely available media [with] the majority of passengers show[ing] preferences to novel, innovative options and personalized channels,” explains Kefallonitis.

“Whether branded IFE channels will continue to be popular relies on their ability to stay current,” Kefallonitis cautions, adding that it’s important to remember that “the viewer is in the position of control [and] he/she can easily switch or turn off channels!”