United Airlines’ decision to install Row 44′s Ku-band satellite-based in-flight connectivity system on its Boeing 757 testbed aircraft even as it offers Aircell’s Gogo air-to-ground (ATG) service on over a dozen 757s has prompted many an industry buff to weigh in…privately, as they are apt to do.
One unnamed, untamed cookie, who clearly favors Aircell’s strategy, opines:
“I don’t see it as a threat. It’s a one off and a red herring. The aircraft, N593UA, was reported to be out of service for well over a month for installation. Designing [Gogo] to install on an overnight versus four to six weeks should be the clincher there. A baseball manager told his GM to get good free agents because ‘you can’t win the Kentucky Derby with donkeys’!”
I am certain that Row 44 – which is fitting Southwest Airlines’ entire fleet with its system – would disagree.
But what say Aircell? Company executive vice president and chief marketing officer Ash ElDifrawi recently told RWG:
“I have absolutely no concerns about our product holding up to that. In fact – let United get a look at it [Row 44]. We’re on 13 United planes. They are one of our strongest performing airline partners on those planes. So I think from that perspective, if United wants to make sure they have the best product for the consumers, and want to feel good about what is a real [service], they are taking a very holistic approach, which is smart, and I’m very confident that ours will more than meet the consumers’ needs.”
So now we wait, or as the Wikipedia entry on Row 44 states: “It remains to be seen which provider United will chose in the long term.”
(Funky photo above from Hryck’s Flickr photo stream)