Heading into APEX, speculation was rife that Bluebox Avionics – the company commissioned to turn iPads into portable in-flight entertainment systems for Jetstar- had ‘jailbroken’ the systems, circumventing Apple’s business case and IP, and in turn pissing off Cupertino executives.
But one must be very careful when trying to sort fact from fiction (and the gray area in between), especially when it involves Apple, which has not been vocal about Bluebox’s plan or the IFEC industry’s larger agenda to bring iPad-based in-flight entertainment solutions to airlines.
I asked Apple to comment in advance of APEX, and the company politely declined. So I posed some questions to Bluebox on the show floor (see below). The company’s joint MD David Brown asserts that everything is okay with Apple, and that Bluebox is eyeing October to finally roll out iPad 2s with the iOS 5 on Jetstar’s fleet. (But I think it’s fair to say that the specifics of Bluebox’s role are still a bit murky. What do you think?)
Meanwhile, I saw far more Samsung Galaxy tabs being displayed as portable IFE than iPads at APEX, a consequence no doubt of the open nature of the Android platform (and the fact that Samsung is formally engaged with the market!).
The industry is mixed over whether Apple’s lawsuits against Samsung will have an impact on their business plans outside of Germany, but most folks didn’t think the suits would pose a big problem. Time will tell.