Hello 2009! And welcome back RWG readers.
Last week I did the unthinkable. I harassed two well-known IFE&C gurus during the holidays in order to secure comment for an industry forecast piece for Flight magazine. Thankfully, IMDC chief executive Wale Adepoju and consultant Michael Planey were willing to spare a few minutes for me. I’ll lay out their predictions about in-flight connectivity more fully here in the coming weeks, but first let’s talk about portable IFE system makers.
Admittedly, I haven’t written a lot about these guys lately (DigEcor, e.Digital, Bluebox, IMS and company, although we did discuss Bluebox’s wireless IFE plans). However, it looks like they could find themselves in a very sweet spot in 2009. Why? Because when airlines slow or stop delivery of new aircraft (which are generally equpped with installed IFE) they start using portables, says Adepoju.
Additionally, as the market goes down, says Adepoju: “Some airlines say ‘ we can’t afford to do [installed IFE] now, so let’s put portables on board’.”
Indeed, portables “might go up by 10% to 15% in 2009″, he says, adding: “It’s going to be a good year for those guys.”
It’s a trend duly noted by attendees at last year’s World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference and exhibition in Long Beach, California.
But what does a down market mean for players in the installed IFE space? Planey notes that Boeing and Airbus “are talking about being stuck with whitetails this year, built with IFE systems”.
“How does that hurt Panasonic and Thales? Do they have a system sitting on an airplane without being in revenue service? Two or three of those starts to affect the bottom line.”
(Photo of IMS portable found at http://imsinflight.com/portables.html )