One of the wonderful things about executives in the in-flight entertainment and connectivity industry is that they are generally very chatty (another wonderful thing is that many of them, like myself, enjoy a good open bar). During the WAEA show last week in Long Beach, I had some interesting discourse with big and little players alike.
Let's start with the Rumors (which are, by nature of the definition, TOTALLY UNSUBSTANTIATED but fun nonetheless).
1) If John McCain is voted in as President of the United States, he will consider appointing former American Airlines head Bob Crandall as his Transportation Secretary. Egads! The airline industry would be re-regulated in a nanosecond.
2) Lufthansa will announce its replacement for Connexion shortly. T-Mobile is playing a prominent role (I blogged about this last year and we're still waiting).
3) Another major Ku-band provider will emerge on the scene in as little as a month (see #2?).
1) LiveTV intends to shortly roll out its brand new in-flight entertainment platform. Continental Airlines is the launch customer. The system boasts a larger 8in screen (versus 6.8in), is much lighter and will give passengers awesome viewing options. Continental passengers will have access to 80-plus channels (the current LiveTV system offers 36 channels of live television). LiveTV wants to eventually retrofit the new platform on the fleets of current customers, including parent JetBlue Airways, Frontier Airlines and WestJet.
2) Panasonic is the world's second largest holder of patents.
3) Panasonic is developing a "super remote control" for installed IFE that, well, is pretty darn super. Aptly called Karma, the all-software handset is menu-driven with no buttons. Karma will essentially let you to be your ambidextrous self. For instance, you can check your email or scan the Internet without ever letting your IFE system's programming skip a beat. Karma will do everything but cook you breakfast (although no doubt you'll be able to order your eggs via Karma).
4) While Air Canada is keen to bring connectivity onboard its domestic and international fleets (and is looking to Aircell for both solutions), the carrier hasn't yet made a decision on whether to equip its Bombardier CRJs.
1) "Our biggest competitor is sleep." - Fran Phillips of Aircell.
2) "Entertainment is king because that's what's keeping passengers quiet back there [in economy]," - Richard Ford of Landor Associates.
3) "Do whatever you can to get Wi-Fi in the sky going." - Mark Heynen of Google.
4) "We feel our domestic customers have a much deeper agenda than just trying to get something on the plane." - John Guidon of Row 44