Thursday, September 29, 2011

. . . in Flight WiFi Revenue

By way of explaining what may on the surface appear to you as a rather odd subject for this blog, I like to mention every now and then that . . .

This Blog --> Speaking Of . . . <-- This Blog

. . . you are reading what is both a blog in the most common sense and purpose of the title (it exists for the purpose of sharing my ideas, thoughts, and observations) and a place of great convenience where I am able to write about the things I stumble upon that either (A) I find interesting enough to want to think upon, mull over, and write about, that (B) nobody wants to pay me to write about or that (C) I choose not to write about for pay because I find it amusing to write about it simply out of the desire to write about it. Confused? Yeah, me too.

In-Flight Wi-Fi Revenues to Surpass $1.5 Billion in 2015, Says In-Stat

A recent article by In-Stat (the market intelligence unit of NPD Group that is often used by stock traders, investors, and those who evaluate events, businesses, and companies with an eye towards investing their own or other people's money... I read its output largely due to the fact that every now and then it examines a subject I am interested in -- say one in every 30 email articles or so being the average) that examines the revenue being earned by airlines and the technology companies who provide in-flight Internet access -- places the income from that small sector at something about to surpass $1.5 Billion with a 'B' dollars.

Initially the market for in-flight 'net access was a small one for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was that getting travelers to spend money on the service initially meant convincing them to alter several habits that are ingrained into travelers because it is how they have been traveling for the past 20 years or more.

Specifically you needed to get them to break their habit of carefully packing their computer bag into the overhead bin and convince them to put it under the seat instead. In addition to that, you also needed to break their habit of not using their computer in flight; but you have the airlines help with that to some degree in that on the newer airline hardware and specifically mostly everything Boeing 737 and above -- there are now power outlets installed into the bulkhead or each seat that conveniently allow users to use their personal computers in-flight...

Another major factor is the increase in truly portable computing devices and our willingness to make use of them as a form of entertainment while traveling -- and now I am specifically talking about the iPad, tablet computers, and basic book and text reading devices like the Kindle which also have basic net surfing capabilities built into them.

As these habits are changed we see profits rising for in-flight 'net access companies -- and the airlines -- and this is food for thought... Both industries undertook extensive research to get a better handle on understanding their customer base, and the results were more than a little bit of a surprise...

Some of the research findings include:
  • Take rates have increased significantly, moving from an average of 4% in 2010 up to 7% in 2011.
  • While in international markets in-flight broadband is just entering the competitive differentiator stage, In-Stat believes it will rapidly transition to a competitive requirement in these markets as it did in the US.
  • Combined, smartphones and tablets are now the predominant devices, in terms of percent of connects.
  • In-flight broadband providers are beginning to introduce new revenue opportunities, including additional passenger services (video and voice) and operational services.
The research pretty much verifies my own assumptions -- and it is always nice to have someone else spend their money verifying my own analysis of a situation.

The tech has caught up with the desire -- users are doing a lot more than simply checking their email or reading and replying to chat boards.... They are splitting their time between work activities and play, which I find fascinating...

The airlines learned that offering the service is no longer an optional thing -- customers expect it to be there and a growing percentage will actually avoid airlines who do not offer it on flights longer than 2 hours. Travelers in the forward classes (first certainly, business increasingly) not only expect the service to be present, they expect it to be free or at least included in the price of their tickets.

Many airlines are combining their Internet access capabilities with the onboard entertainment systems -- Virgin America is a good example of this trend -- not simply spreading the capability throughout the aircraft but making good use of it themselves as the heart of their news and entertainment systems in the send of payment systems more than anything else.

For example, when a passenger orders food through the video touchscreen built into seatback in front of them or installed in the arm of their seat, it used the Internet to accept and process the payment using a credit card that is "swiped" through the same card reader that is used to activate the airphone at each seat. It is not simply food that this system is used for, but movies, TV, and the skymall as well to the point that the cabin crew no longer accepts cash money.

This all bears further contemplation... And perhaps a closer look at Boeing's Connexion and why it failed to take off (yeah, bad pun), what GoGo did right, and why Southwest's satellite-based service had so many issues.... More thought indeed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

. . . Routines

Like most people I am a creature of habit and routine; each day I follow a set of patterns that begins with waking up and checking my email over a cuppa, answering the messages that require my attention immediately before breaking my fast, and then dealing with the rest of the email on an as-needed, as-deserved basis.

Along with those answered messages are invariably a few new messages that I must create to deal with the things that need to be dealt with, and this first pattern of habit begins both my personal and my working day.

What follows is a pattern of routines: I read and review the wire service reports, prioritize the press releases that I have received as email directly from the PR's, and compare those to the report that is maintained on a pair of industry websites before selecting the stories that will make up the morning video game news contents for Gaming Update.

In addition to the above activities, I also review and select the various news pieces that have been submitted by the other members of the site's growing staff of talented writers, selecting and approving the pieces that are destined to be included as the day's gaming news feed from the other writers, performing these tasks and making these decisions in my capacity as unofficial sub-editor.

With all of that managed, I then depart IRL for work, where I perform the work-like things that the physical space is reserved for at that place called work, and at some point in my day I have Skype conversations with the other staff writers/interns for GU, during which we will discuss the topics for their upcoming pieces / coverage, and participate in the social side of those relationships.

This can mean anything from simply gossiping and exchanging links to the websites/pages online that have most recently attracted our collective attention, to participating in organized social activities -- for example we have our own small group on the Facebook social game Farmville within which we often pursue group-oriented efforts such as growing specific crops for crafting and the like.

By mid-day the bulk of this set of routines is completed, not to be repeated until the following morning when it all begins again and anew!

Randomness that is Not Random
Following the completion of that small element of work-mixed-with-socialization I fall into the next regular set of routines; completing outstanding assignments for the other publications that I work for, taking care of research for upcoming columns and articles, and organizing my list of Things That Must Be Completed and Acted Upon™ and, once those are finished to my exacting standards, I break for lunch, eat it, and spend some time visiting the websites and pages that I normally visit at that time of day (and thus performing yet another of the many routine activities that collectively make up the varied but regular subroutines of an average day).

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 meant popping-open my bookmarks folders, navigating to the one whose title is "Blogs" and paying visits to:

(1)The Daily Girl Attack Panic Super HD Remix Blog, where I catch up on what Lauren has to say since my last visit. Lauren is, if you are not aware, an incredibly intelligent and observant girl gamer who, though temporarily seduced by the Dark Side (PR) is nevertheless in the foundations of her soul and, most important, in that moment before hitting the Start Button, a committed gamer and games journo. One of us, in other words.

In addition to being a genuine gamer, Lauren is also a freelance writer and her observations on the pink weapons skins for Gears 3, light musing on Dead Island, and her observations on immersion (or rather immersion-breaking aspects) in Deus Ex: Human Revolution (A) interest me, (B) cause me to agree, and (C) feel like she was somehow inside my head and thinking the same thoughts as I was on that subject.

(2) My weekly visit to Audra's Australian Adventures Blog where I quickly catch-up on the thoughts of an interesting young American woman (now technically Australian-American since she took the plunge and legally became an Aussie not too long ago), which is always worth the time spent visiting and reading the pages.

(3) WWdN: In Exile, my third blog-site stop of this particular subroutine of my routine is always where I am happy to see the advice that opens every visit: "Don't be a dick!"

This is of course the blog-slash-wisdom-and-observational-offerings of actor, author, and all-around interesting fellow Wil Wheaton, a man who has spent so much time in my bedroom on one screen or another that I almost feel as if we have some sort of relationship.... And interestingly enough of the three blogs that are part of this subroutine, Wil Wheaton is the only person/blogger involved who I have actually met and spoken with IRL...

While some of the dedicated Trekkies out there say that they dislike Wil's character in STTNG, I simply cannot see how they could possibly have reservations about or concerns over a writer who is also an actor and who IRL not only writes and acts, but also (A) brews his own beer/ale, (B) is a seriously dedicated gamer, (3) regularly speaks and/or/as well appears at PAX Prime, PAX East, This Con and That Con, and (D) would find my mixture of alpha-numeric points amusing. I am just saying...

GIGO: an Acronym that has Nothing to do with the TV show Weeds
One part of my daily routine that hardly ever varies is my need to discover factoids and stories, history, and other bits of largely useless and trivial information that somehow relates to my life -- or I can convince myself that they do -- often in very loose and hard to link ways :) Thoughts about some aspect of life in Chez BF is often the motivating factor, and of course the Internet and the Web are just about the perfect vehicle for that sort of hit-or-miss digital joyride. Often these trips begin while I am searching for information about a piece I am writing, but just as often they can be a subject casually related to games, gaming, or my dog.

In my home office resides my collection of video game consoles which lay about in various positions of attention, parade rest, and sprawl upon the broad and flat top of the oak armoire that is the one piece of furniture that Yvonne owned (along with an ancient but fully-functioning 1951 model RCA Victor 45 self-contained turntable) when we moved into our first flat together in New Haven -- the one that was just across the street from Saint Rafe's -- in the bad old days of the early 1990's when if we were not off at an SCA event, we spent our Saturday afternoons pwning Yale underclassmen from Psi Upsilon, KASY -- and the odd Spizzwink -- at our regular weekly AD&D game.

You may find this amazing (I know I do) but those Saturday AD&D games took place each Saturday afternoon (well yeah) starting at 15:00 GMT -5 and ending at 20:00 GMT -5 (or thereabouts) in the very dorm room that was once the home of Rear Admiral Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 -- January 1, 1992) but at the time of our gaming sessions, was the lawfully registered domicile of one Gregarious Root (not his real name but actually his genuine 'Nym) -- and yes, his last name does mean what you think it does and, together, the two names do mean what you fear that they do; as many a formerly chaste young lady from the nearby seat of higher education Albertus Magnus often discovered.

Now, in addition to rising to the rank of Rear Admiral, and having the United States Navy vessel U.S.S. Hopper (DDG-70) named for her (which BTW you can get a 1/350th scale plastic model kit for from Trumpeter Models), Admiral Hopper is famous for a number of reasons, including the fact that she is the person who coined the phrase "Computer Bug" when, in 1946, while serving as a research fellow atHarvard University's Computation Laboratory, she worked on the U.S. Navy's Mark IIand Mark III computers, inventing the term "computer bug" when sheremoved a dead moth from the switching contacts of the Mark II that was preventing the program run from completing properly.

We were playing our weekly game of Dungeons and Dragons in the rooms that the female version of Einstein basically conceived and drafted her doctoral dissertation: New Types ofIrreducibility Criteria, and where it is probably safe to assume she formulated many of the ideas that eventually lead to her theories on simple platform-independent computer programming languages and COBOL, and how cool is that?!