Exclusive: The Griffin-made iPod connectivity tool for IFE

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The annual World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference and exhibition got off to a roaring start today (and they haven’t even opened the doors to the show floor yet!!)

I and my colleague Jon Ostrower have been filing copy throughout the day so be sure to check out Flight Global’s new in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) channel for all the latest headlines.

You’ll see a couple of standouts, however, like Panasonic’s decision to make its iPod/iPhone connectivity tool, eXport, available to competitors (will Thales ink a licensing agreement with Panasnoic?) and, with that, Panasonic’s revelation to yours truly that Griffin Technology is now manufacturing eXport and selling it to airlines, duty free folks and via the Apple online store. 

I even got my hands on one of the first Griffin-made eXport video cables. Now all I need to do is fly on a carrier that offers iPod connectivity such as United Airlines (available in some of its first-class cabins) or Continental Airlines’ newly configured Boeing 777s. Check out Jon Ostrower’s blog for a timeline scoop about Continental’s debut of its BusinessFirst seat.

I wonder how many other IFEC vendors will follow Panasonic’s iPod Merge strategy, which goes a significant step further than the current iPod Connect offering by allowing content metadata to be integrated or ‘consumed’ into the graphical user interface (GUI) and displayed to the passenger via the IFE screen.

The answer, says Perlman, is that other vendors are welcome to do whatever they want with eXport once they sign a licensing agreement for it.

Key quote: “We’re trying to separate ourselves from the value chain.

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3 Responses to Exclusive: The Griffin-made iPod connectivity tool for IFE

  1. Will Horton October 6, 2009 at 7:30 am #

    Can’t help but to feel all these companies’ efforts are misguided.

    With airlines that offer the connectivity, most are doing so in premium cabins where passengers are business travelers and lament about the plethora of cables they need for a trip: laptop charger, mobile charger, camera charger, etc. Now these companies want them not just to purchase the cable but to carry it with them just so they can connect their iPod to the IFE system? Dare I point out the amount of space the cable will take up, owning to its three foot long? With that length, one could connect the device to a seat in another row.

    Griffin et. al. would be much better off marketing the cables to airlines, who could purchase one for every seat that has the connectivity. That way business travelers do not have to carry the cable and no passenger is disappointed by not being able to connect into the system.

    And for economy class passengers, one airline (Virgin America has potential) could offer the connectors to distinguish itself from competitors. Travelers who fly regularly but on a number of different aircraft and airlines will have a hard time keeping track of which flight they will be able to use their connector.

    By the way, Mary, what’s the cost of such a cable?

    -Will Horton, who will soon be contributing to Flightglobal for an Australia Pacific focused blog

  2. Wandering Aramean October 8, 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    I’m pretty sure that CO doesn’t have the connector on any of their planes. There was some discussion of it a few years back but I’ve not seen it in action.

    Also, it is too bad they’ve gone with a proprietary cable. Didn’t they learn anything from the emPower story? Sure, it is great when it is the only option, but eventually people figure out how to make it work with the original/universal cable and the airline and consumer are pigeon-holed. Not great over the long-term.

  3. Ralph Stoddard December 10, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    Cool blog! I’m happy I stumbled onto it through google i’m gonna have to add another one to the list.