Not so long ago, those expensive, proprietary seat-back entertainment systems were the coolest way to entertain yourself in the sky - and a key point of airline differentiation. But the rising popularity of iPads threatens to make even the slickest built-in entertainment systems obsolete. Forward-thinking airlines are scrambling to get ahead of the trend.
Until quite recently, the prevailing school of thought was to make traditional in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems bigger and better. That’s certainly the idea behind IFE systems on new Boeing “Dreamliner” 787s.
But as more and more passengers tote their own tablets (not to mention laptops, ultrabooks and giant-screen smartphones), the airlines, plane manufacturers and third-party service providers are starting to question the value of traditional IFE systems.
Traditional in-the-seat entertainment systems are beginning to be supplemented and even replaced by systems designed to deliver entertainment wirelessly to passenger’s personal electronic devices or in the case of some airlines, tablets that are loaned to passengers for the duration of the flight.