Air play for IFE lovers

CoKinetic Systems, which develops IFE systems software, has been flying under the radar for the last few years. The company is best known for supplying its AirPlay software to Virgin America’s “Red” system (which uses Panasonic hardware), but precious little else has been openly discussed. That’s about to change. Expect a big announcement around September when the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference kicks off in Long Beach.


But if you need a quickie refresher about CoKinetic, check out my September 2004 article below called “Virgin America’s IFE plans could prove industry changing”. It was written before Panasonic was revealed as the IFE system maker for Red. Keep an eye on this space. We may soon find out just how industry changing is CoKinetic.



Thumbnail image for ife seats - Virgin America.JPGVirgin America’s IFE plans could prove industry changing
Mary Kirby, DC

Virgin America has made the unprecedented decision to pick separate providers for its planned inflight entertainment (IFE) platform and the interface engine that will run software on the system.


The airline has contracted US startup company CoKinetic to supply a new interactive engine called AirPlay, an XML-based product which can run a wide range of IFE applications on any major IFE platform.


It is separately in talks with an unnamed IFE system manufacturer to equip its recently ordered Airbus A319s and A320s with the necessary hardware.


The decision – which appears to be the first of its kind – could represent a shift in how airlines seek IFE solutions in the future.


Traditionally, major IFE manufacturers – including Matsushita, Rockwell Collins and Thales – supply airlines with both the platform and the “windows-like” operating system that runs software applications on the hardware.


“As a result, the airlines become beholden to the capabilities of that IFE software…and every time they want new features they have to go back to [the IFE platform makers],” notes IFE industry veteran Alan Pellegrini, who is on the board of directors at CoKinetic.


Speaking to ATI, Pellegrini says that “Virgin America stepping forward has enabled that break allowing airlines to explore their own creativity in bringing new functionality to passengers”.


In the future, he adds, this move “could mean that airlines will separate the hardware from the software purchase”, and force “the hardware guys to basically accept that and integrate the interactive engine on their platform”.


CoKinetic also considers its contract with Virgin America to be landmark. “For the first time, airlines can combine applications hosted on their IFE servers with additional content from other sources,” says CoKinetic in a statement. “The content and overall look and feel of the IFE system can be quickly and inexpensively refreshed – much the way web pages are today.”


Under its deal with Virgin America, CoKinetic will also develop a number of software applications that will reside on AirPlay.


CoKinetic is “totally responsible for the interactive experience on that airline. [Virgin America] will still license movies and audio programming but the entire user experience has been handed over to CoKinetic“, says Pellegrini. “It is a pretty substantial project for them,” he adds.


A Virgin America spokeswoman will only confirm that the carrier has entered a contract with CoKinetic. “We are very excited about their capabilities. We have publicly stated that we are going to offer a high-style, low-fare airline service carrying the world renowned Virgin brand and the Virgin style of service,” she says.


While she declines to disclose the specific details of the deal, the spokeswoman notes that the IFE presently offered by US low-cost carriers JetBlue Airways and Song “are truly the launch pad, instead of the ceiling of the product offering that you can anticipate from Virgin America”.


Virgin America also has not yet revealed what IFE platform will equip its Airbus narrowbodies. Other Virgin brands, the UK‘s Virgin Atlantic Airways and Australia‘s Virgin Blue, have Rockwell Collins IFE platforms installed on their aircraft.


Source: Air Transport Intelligence news

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