In February Boeing made a strategic investment in the Immfly cabin digitalization platform. That investment is now yielding results, as Boeing Digital Services marks its entry into the wireless inn-flight entertainment market with Digital Direct. The product was officially announced last week and will be on display at the APEX/FTE Virtual Expo in early December.
Digital Direct promises entertainment for passengers and a major digital boost for the airlines. Boeing Global Services (BGS) pitches a fully customized portal design and all the typical content channels, including app-free DRM services for Hollywood content. It also spotlights digital retail offers. And the Boeing Digital Direct platform claims “deep analytics to provide valuable insights” for airlines.
As a services offering the Digital Direct platform can install in an overhead bin or integrate into an existing wireless infrastructure on board. It also is aircraft-agnostic, with BGS pitching is as viable for non-Boeing types as well.
Installations are retrofit-only for now, though BGS suggests that line-fit options are “currently under study.”
Given the timing of the launch it is no surprise that COVID-19 plays into the positioning. Beyond contactless payments BGS also focuses on the ability to deliver health information, including destination guidance and form data capture.
Innovation or more of the same??
Missing from the product launch, however, are any details on what makes this product truly different from the myriad other wIFE platforms on the market.
Digital transformation and analytics are talked about a lot in the industry and have been for a few years now. Even when it was just the Immfly pitch directly the concept was mostly the same. And getting to personalized offers that truly revolutionize the inflight ancillary marketing world, while a noble goal, appears to still be out of reach on a practical level. And getting to that level of personalization almost certainly will require a live internet connection in flight, something the Digital Direct platform can support if it exists on the plane, but not something it brings to the offering.
Then again, it comes from Boeing, and the value proposition there is not to be underestimated. Boeing has also branched out into seating, signing a partnership deal with Aident in 2018 and then buying EnCore outright in 2019. The goal there was to develop a product that airlines could choose and easily include in their Boeing aircraft configuration, without worrying about negotiations with another supplier.
Perhaps getting the streaming IFE and digital merchandising platform in that same manner could be similarly compelling for some airlines.
A favor to ask while you're here...
Did you enjoy the content? Or learn something useful? Or generally just think this is the type of story you'd like to see more of? Consider supporting the site through a donation (any amount helps). It helps keep me independent and avoiding the credit card schlock.