The In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) market is hot! This year’s APEX Expo was the largest yet: a record breaking 5300+ attendees descended upon Long Beach, California to see what’s new, to introduce new products and to celebrate the solutions that are continuing to improve air travel for passengers.
We share a bit of what we saw while at the show here. To connect with one of our IFEC product development experts, please
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Netflix Inflight 2.0 was presented to an eager crowd. Set to launch early next year, Netflix will deploy encodes to provide airlines with better insights on buffering times and will only require airlines to give Netflix their IP ranges for upgraded fleets.
Partnering will result in bandwith savings and enable airlines to promote the option as a core offering, which Spencer Wang, vice-president, Finance and Investor Relations at Netflix, Inc. says delivers an average 30 percent “uplift” in passenger loyalty.
DVD-quality stream to all personal devices at 250Kbps coming soon
75% bandwidth savings
20% of users have accessed the gen 1 service in the air more than once
Sleep is having a moment.
APEX EXPO was all a buzz about American Airline’s announcement that they’re aiming to be the airline for sleep as they roll out new sleep-enhancing products with startup darling, Casper. First class, Business class and Premium Economy can look forward to holiday flights home being a little cozier as the plan is to launch in December.
Casper, known for its unique distribution (shipped directly to your home in a compact box) and try-it-for-longer-than-5-minutes-in-a-showroom policy, has found an ingenious way of getting more people *ahem* in between their sheets. We like AA’s style of embracing this fresh company and pairing the AA brand with them.
Mills Textiles has created bedding that can be filled with natural grain or cherry stone & infused with an aromatherapy scent. That’s a pleasant way to drift to sleep or gently be nudged awake.
We always talk about the crossover among industries, which is why it’s part of our ethos to track trends from myriad markets. Sleep was a popular problem being addressed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year as well. Looks like we’re not tired of trying to get some good zzzz’s.
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Not tired? Stay Busy.
Delta Air Lines will become the first US global carrier to offer free mobile messaging. The service will be available on all Gogo-enabled Delta flights.
Guestlogix suggests that airlines look to increase revenues by looking to retail, rather than competing to be the cheapest fare. Their platform, which debuted at APEX, provides airlines data analytics, predictive machine learning and personalised communications akin to what “on-the-ground” retail brands are already using.
As always, announcements abounded regarding connectivity agreements, notably new installations in China, which we’re also excited to add to the buzz soon... want to make sure you’re first to hear?
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Not your parents' content.
Skylights, now well known for its immersive cinema headsets, announced content partnerships with Warner Bros, National Geographic, Lionsgate and BBC for their newest headsets, dubbed ‘AlloSky’. Passengers on launch partners, which include Air France and others, will get to experience 2D, 3D and 180 degree video content - in 1080p resolution.
NHK Global Media Services pushes content crowdsourced from monitoring hashtags on TripAdvisor and Instagram and is pulling from social media posts from seasoned travelers to try to deliver the information tourists are really looking for.
Virgin Australia earned praise from the APEX Awards for their vision: short films, educational content and music videos that have been produced for film festivals and competitions or from reputable Australian schools. Fresh.
In order to deliver on the promise of passenger-delighting IFEC solutions, everything has to come together in development. Complex technical considerations from satellites to ecosystems are weighed and leveraged in making seemingly simple offerings possible.
Lease vs. Buy
Whether to lease satellites or buy to provide for connectivity was a point of debate, each with upsides and downsides. Leasing enables companies to focus on what they do best and ensures the newest technologies are at their fingertips, but comes at a premium, whereas purchasing satellites enables for more control and cost savings, but makes constant upgrades a challenge.
Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom combined their mobile satellite communications and integrated telecomm expertise to create the ground-breaking European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight broadband solution, which has delivered on the promise of more consistency, stability and speed, and won them the recognition of the APEX Awards judges.
Open source vs. Proprietary
It’s a (new) age-old debate: what fosters more innovation and advancement: open source or proprietary platforms? Of course, Apple and Andriod teams square off regularly to debate the merits of each, but now the conversation is also happening in the aerospace industry. The Internet of FlightTM has pushed ecosytem development to the forefront of the IFEC conversation.
Want to be great? Make the investment.
How do you gain a reputation for being great? By knowing what passengers want now, anticipating what they’ll want next and making the investment to deliver on both.
Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates, known for their high-end, passenger-centered flight experience, shared his philosophy for staying on top: being “ready and brave enough” to make decisions. A few things on his mind for the future:
More Passenger Control
Jet Blue’s Mint premium-level offering features a seat that stretches to 6’8” when lying flat, a massage feature, dual 110v/usb ports and a door that can prevent those mid-nap wake up calls from the drink cart smashing into your elbow.
United has been promoting its ‘redesigned from AAA to ZZZ’ Polaris experience well ahead of its actual availability, throwing their hat into the new sleep wars in the sky. Mattress cushions, Saks Fifth Avenue bedding and cooling gel pillows will be at the passengers’ fingertips.
Whoooo are you? Brands pair to make a statement.
Companies are always trying to make their brands more recognizable and valuable. Partnerships and product placements with airlines to increase visibility is not new; however, creating co-branded experiences is a new frontier. The branded cabin, as seen with Airbus’ Airspace is a novel strategy. Also notable is the partnership between American Airlines and Casper, as described earlier in this report. What will be next? We’ll be watching.
Jet Blue will roll out its version of Airbus’ Airspace cabin in 2020. So with the rise of branded cabins, what’s the philosophy of the airline/cabin manufacturer branding? Airbus’ VP of Cabin Marketing, Ingo Wuggetzer, says their Airspace brand serves as the backdrop for empowering the airline brand. The Airspace branded cabin communicates certain attributes that deliver a better trip experience, and in combination with the airline’s brand, elevates both. We like it.
Formia announced that they brought together Lalique branded products with Singapore Airlines. A strong tradition of thoughtful pairings of well known brands with airlines for their amenity kits is not new, but it will be interesting to see what fresh brands might pair with an airline next.
Gogo’s next generation ATG network is slated for North American availability in 2018, so they sought the expertise of Telefonix PDT once again to develop its Airborne Modem Controller Unit (AMCU) to fully enable the new network.
Inmarsat partnered with the London School of Economics (LSE) to conduct a study that reports inflight broadband is estimated to be a $130 billion global market within 20 years.
Envee Inflight Entertainment announced its partnership with Gameloft, HandyGames and Gamezop, all mobile game developers, to deliver more innovative and internet-famous games to the skies.
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Software as the center of the universe
While hardware is often a critical component of IFE systems, with new communication developments and truly unique user interface design possibilities, software can be what really makes a solution stand out.
Gogo announced that their Vision Touch product is launching on Delta Airlines. Content will be streamed wirelessly to a commercial grade, mounted seat-back tablet as well as trevelers’ personal devices. This new solution will allow for easy and inexpensive repairs and replacements.
KLM’s self-learning messenger bot allows users an interactive and friendly experience for booking a flight, accessing their boarding pass and receiving flight updates.
Black Swan and partner IAG, along with Massive, were awarded the Best InFlight Entertainment innovation award for LEVEL, their entertainment platform that enables travelers to customize and manage their in-flight experience. Passengers can connect through the integrated seatback portal and an app on their own device, then browse and purchase items, including movies, music, TV shows, food, drink, and duty-free items, while on-board, even when the aircraft is offline.
Before you go...
A couple notable standouts from APEX delivered value before passengers even leave the ground. From destination research to booking, departures and arrivals, no stone can be left unturned in creating happy customers.
Envee showed off its seat bid app, a new take on letting passengers name the price they’re willing to spend on a seat.
Spafax will empower passengers to know about their flight’s IFE offerings before they hop on board once their Spafax Profile Skill for Alexa is live next year. Finally, passengers will know if they‘ll be able to catch that movie they’ve been wanting to see on their next flight.