There have been lots of questions about the viability of in-flight connectivity. Once you try it, you know why you want it. But there is the hurdle of paying for it – which is tough when connectivity is free in so many places on the ground.  It has been a tough sale – AirCell/GoGo previously said that when they had the service sponsored by Google during the holidays usage was off the charts and their system struggled to cope with traffic. Therefore it is clear demand exists and the travelers have the devices ready.  It’s just that small issue of the credit card being pulled out.

With that backdrop, let’s look at what GoGo information shared. They provided a number of charts that tell interesting stories about in-flight connectivity. The first chart shows that Apple is the hot in-flight device. Not only is this important for all sorts of reasons for app developers but it also alludes to the inelastic demand Apple users have for their devices. Besides this, consider that Apple devices like iPhones and iPads suck up huge amounts of data. Every app does it thing seamlessly.  GoGo must love these devices, and perhaps they should rethink pricing models for hand held devices that easily suck up as much bandwidth as a – probably more.

Here’s another chart that shows the power of Apple among the devices being used in-flight.  Of course the user base of Android tablets is just getting started and the chart is likely to change over time. But still, Apple has a huge start and users can’t seem to keep these devices switched off.

Looking at what people do while in-flight; the following chart indicates primary interest in playing as opposed to working.  So you know who’s credit card is most likely getting dinged.  We say this because BlackBerry users are much more likely to have a corporate credit card, which by some weird magic, is able to come out in a flash regardless of location.

In terms of what people travel with, the next chart is interesting. We have no idea just how representative the surveys are that GoGo undertook – but it would seem that they have been polling device fiends. With so many devices and associated chargers, is there any space for clothing and work documents?

Finally a chart that we think is really important for airlines. Since GoGo is only on US domestic routes, where supplied IFE may be the worst found anywhere,  travelers are most likely using their devices to pass the time: using personal devices and never having to look up and see horrible reruns and incessant advertising. Besides seat pitch has reached DVT inducing levels.  There is no room for a laptop in coach.  So personal devices like tablets and smart phones as personal IFE are surely headed for dominance.  With massive storage, connectivity, superb sound, and content you are really interested in these devices beat any in-seat or overhead offering.  Besides personal devices have a meantime between failures that is a fraction of that found  on planes. People take care of their devices.

The only escape from airline provided content and broken equipment is to look down and let your mind roam the world you create and like.  Airlines might want to consider the cost and complexity of installing IFE which, in the end, competes with devices with limitless customization. No airline can compete with that.  How much easier it would be to supply in-seat supply power plus connectivity and charge for that.  Surely a much better ancillary revenue stream without the complexity and MRO irritation.

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