“Aircraft in-flight entertainment (IFE) system providers have held talks with Apple Computer on the possibility of licensing its iTunes media download software for airlines’ own systems, enabling passengers to use frequent-flyer miles to download music and videos on to iPod MP3 players in-flight,” Andrew Doyle reports for Flight International. “‘We’ve had lots of discussions with Apple,’ said Thales vice-president and in-flight systems general manager Brad Foreman last week at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. ‘The key is to get them to see the value of hosting iTunes on an aircraft. Is it a big enough market for them to be interested in? I’d try to do it tomorrow if they said yes.’ Panasonic Avionics strategic product marketing director David Bruner agreed that ‘there’s a lot of airline interest’ in the idea of hosting iTunes. ‘Apple is aware of the market,’ he said. ‘It’s a small market for them, but it’s a very visible market.'”
“Apple refuses to confirm or deny the talks,” Doyle reports. “Several airlines have requested building iPod docks, or Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports in seatbacks, allowing passengers to browse iTunes through the airline’s IFE system before transferring music directly to the MP3 player. Flights could be an ideal time during which to download songs, but currently it is restricted to those passengers with laptops flying on a flight with a wireless network. In order to license an onboard system offering, Apple would have to re-engineer the software to allow songs downloaded mid-flight to be transferred back on the customer’s computer hard disk, currently prohibited. Apple would also encounter licensing issues similar to those faced by in-flight telephony providers over where copyright and sales data are recorded for media downloaded in international airspace, according to industry insiders familiar with the negotiations.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: If Apple decides to do such a thing, it would be more of a mindshare and marketing move for Apple than a profit play. The dominant market leader should be in seat-backs in-flight as opposed to seeing a beleaguered Napster or Real or some other sputtering also-ran Microsoft WMA-crippled outfit that’s limited to Windows-only while also being iPod-incompatible.
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