Embedded IFE is nowhere near dead

 

N680 Lumexis Splash Screen.JPG

To all the naysayers out there who believe in-stalled in-flight entertainment (IFE) is becoming obsolete and will, like the Old South, find itself gone with the wind, I ask you to draw your attention to today’s top story on Flight Global’s new IFE&C channel, about new market player Lumexis.

The California-based company has secured a full-fleet customer for its fiber-to-the-screen (FTTS) IFE system, which offers an unlimited platform for entertainment, communication/connectivity, cached websites, commercial transaction/data transfer and cabin/aircraft data collection/distribution.

That an airline is opting for state-of-the-art IFE from a relative newcomer despite today’s global economic recession is impressive in its own right. 

But the deal is important on a number of other levels too.

1) It underscores the important role that IFE continues to play – and will play in the future – especially as airlines seek new ways to personalize the travel experience for passengers while generating new ancillary revenue streams.

2) It brings a new player to the game of Duopoly. Panasonic and Thales have for years dominated the embedded IFE space, following Rockwell Collins’ decision not to pursue IFE business on new generation widebodies (the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787); and,

3) It shows that there is still financing to be had for new IFE installs (i.e., the ever important moneymen, whoever they are, don’t think the death knell has rung for installed IFE).

A320 Cabin w Lumexis FTTS(tm).JPG

But while those in-seat and seat-back screens are here for the foreseeable future, their role is certainly changing, as airlines hear the siren call of in-flight connectivity.

“My sense is that ‘connectivity’ is a broad term encompassing quite different roles/requirements such as real time TV, Internet surfing, SMS messaging, etc. Our corporate charter has been to become the on-board network for every kind of application and communication source, but not to provide the “off-aircraft” links,” Lumexis CEO Douglas Cline tells RWG.

“There is a plethora of diverse service providers including satellite and terrestrial channels of all flavors and we have committed to connect to any/all of them our airline customers want us to tie in, but not to compete with them. So, in a sense, we are the most ‘connectable’ of full-functionality IFE suppliers.”

Perhaps more than anything it remains true that movies are more compelling to watch on a big screen versus a smartphone or other small-sized personal device.

Frankly, the thought of a tiny little Rhett bidding adieu to a tiny little Scarlett makes me actually give a damn about installed IFE.

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3 Responses to Embedded IFE is nowhere near dead

  1. Kevin September 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm #

    Any speculation on who it is? Is it fair to say it is probably not a US based legacy? Is it also fair to say it is small-ish airline (less than ~50 planes)?

  2. Mary Kirby September 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    Kevin, I’m in speculation mode too, I’m afraid. Lumexis isn’t giving even half a hint as to the carrier’s identity, its size or where it’s based, but I have reason to believe the solution is getting a lot of attention worldwide (and not simply because they say so).

    Could US Airways have decided to do an about face? Wouldn’t that be awesome (and so unlike them)?

    The WAEA expo is fast approaching so I’d imagine we’ll see some big announcements out of the show.

  3. alloycowboy September 14, 2009 at 6:01 pm #

    Well you know Mary, a captive audience is a beautiful thing, espically when they are restrained in an airline seat with nothing to do. I don’t think to many airlines will pass up the opportunity to market (flog) their goods and services and those of their commerical partners over the IFE system (brainwashing system).

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