Bluebox addresses iPad rumour; sees Jetstar roll out next month

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.

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2 Responses to Bluebox addresses iPad rumour; sees Jetstar roll out next month

  1. Steven Frischling September 17, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    The answers Bluebox provides in the interview dove tail almost identically to my concerns over Bluebox utilizing the iPad as IFE back in June 2010, which I wrote about here –

    The question still remains, with all the altering of the iPad, from stripping the iOS, to building custom rugged cases, custom batteries and custom interfaces … is the iPad still the best choice? Where is there long term viability and the ROI?

    The cost of turning an iPad into something else … when something else exists … makes little business sense.

  2. Mary Kirby September 17, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    A number of IFEC vendors now feel the same way, Steven. They don’t think it’s worth it. They are willing to do it if pressed (and paid) but otherwise the COTS focus has shifted to Droid-based devices for portable IFE. Purpose-built portables, meanwhile, still have a market.