Gogo looks to evolve into multi-media powerhouse

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Entering a new chapter in its business development, in-flight connectivity service provider Aircell has changed its corporate name to Gogo and launched a new customized multi-media platform and wireless in-flight entertainment solution that aims to transform the passenger experience.

"Historically, we thought of ourselves as a connectivity company providing in-air connectivity and now we're moving to the phase where we are going to provide a much broader set of in-air experiences and become everybody's favourite part of flying," Gogo executive vice president and chief marketing officer Ash ElDifrawi said during a 14 July press event at the company's headquarters in Itasca, Illinois.

To accomplish its goal Gogo worked with design and innovation firm IDEO to define and build the new platform, which will replace the traditional Gogo portal, and enable passengers to access online services that include real-time travel information, destination content, news and information, exclusive shopping deals and social network integration.

Significantly, the new platform can be customized for each of Gogo's airline partners, representing a clear departure from Gogo's previous model, which saw the company hold a more prominent brand position whenever passengers logged on to its Internet service in flight.

"We heard loud and clear from our airline partners that they want this site and this platform to be ownable and brandable for them so they can create a differentiated experience that's aligned with their brand. So a clear deliverable was to give them what I call a canvass that they can have a differentiated experience that aligns with their brand, their messaging their customer experience," said ElDifrawi.

Delta Air Lines will be first operator to offer the new platform, starting in the fourth quarter.

The platform will also give airlines the opportunity, should they choose, to offer passengers access to the latest movies and TV shows through Gogo's new streaming video product, which will be similar to offerings on the ground such as iTunes or Netflix.

Passengers can start watching a movie on the aircraft, but if the aircraft lands before the movie is finished, they can continue watching the movie on the ground within 24 hours.

American Airlines has agreed to test the wireless IFE solution on two Boeing 767-200s. Various price points will be tested. "So we'll go from free content to a higher price for the feature movies that are recently released but we will experimentand learn."

Asked by ATI and Flightglobal if all passengers on board the aircraft will be able to access the video service simultaneously, company CEO Michael Small said: "So day one we will be able to do many passengers and there is no conceptual reason we can't do the whole plane. It will take some additional technical work over time but we see the ability to do the full plane."

Although Gogo is now officially the umbrella name for the entire business, the name Aircell will remain in play for now for the business aviation side of its operation.

For more information about Gogo's new wireless IFE product and multi-media platform, including a video from yesterday's press conference, check out Flightglobal's Runway Girl blog.