Two years following official product launch the Arc maps solution from Panasonic Avionics holds a miniscule market share. As the industry emerges from its pandemic-induced slumber, however, that appears poised to change. With 17 airlines now on board and 300 aircraft committed to carry the new system, the company is ready to stake its position as a true competitor in the moving maps space.
With Arc, we are enabling airlines to utilize in-flight maps as a primary tool for customer engagement and service. Its rapid adoption highlights the importance these new approaches represent to our customers.– Andrew Mohr, VP Digital Solutions, Panasonic Avionics
VP of Digital Solutions Andrew Mohr leads the team at Panasonic managing the platform and he comes to the role with significant experience. He helped develop the first moving maps for AirShow decades ago and understands the potential they offer. “The map is typically the second most popular thing on an IFE system, after watching a new release film. When you have something that that has that level of engagement it turns into a hot property. That is a big part of why we got into the map business. There are great maps out there, but the we wanted to see how can we turn this into something that’s tied more into other digital services and really exploit that property more.”
The value is not just about the time passengers spend using the map during a flight, but how the suppliers can change the engagement experience. Earlier iterations operated very much in a one-way manner, with pre-programmed content pushed to the passenger.
As the underlying systems have evolved, however, the interactive nature of the offerings becomes more compelling. Mohr explains, “The map is almost like a video game in terms of all the different places you can go with it. And it’s a convergence of a lot of technology and creativity challenges. So it’s a super fun product. But it also is one of the most demanding applications on an IFE system. It’s very content driven.”
Gamifying the map: you know, for kids
One of the first game-ish adaptations is Arc for Young Explorers, or, as Mohr refers to it internally, Dinosaur mode. “There’s so many creative things we can do, and dinosaurs seemed like a great start. You fly a pterodactyl instead of flying an airplane, go back in time.” Bright, cheerful colors and imaginations of prehistoric sounds and movement fill the screen.
While the dinosaurs may be targeting kids (of all ages) in the initial release, Mohr is also keen to use the successful product launch as a stepping stone to bigger and better developments.
He sees the entire aircraft is a mobile device, and the ability to be truly interactive on the IFE system peaks with the map. Features and opportunities change as the plane moves through the phases of flight and around the globe. “The ideas are coming faster than we can really develop them. We want to offer a different type of choice, different type of value.”
Revenue opportunities, or not
Delivering a different value comes not just from increased revenue, though that’s a big part of the plan. The system integrates with the OneMedia platform, creating an opportunity for advertising campaigns that cross from the map to other portions of the IFE experience.
Mohr also notes that some airlines will choose to not load up on the ad experience. Instead the advanced map features become part of a compelling (and free) IFE environment that attracts return purchases by passengers.
“There’s a balance in the use of advertising, and how that relates to service. Our goal is that an airline that really wants to take that to the limit, we use Arc as an engagement magnet. And you can populate it as much as you want or as little as you want; that’s part of the tool set. But sometimes NPS can be impacted if you’re advertising too heavily.”
Other than launch customer Vistara that has the kit flying today, the other 16 airline customers are not being shared. But Mohr promises it represents a broad range, “spanning from our super premium carriers down to the LCC market showing the maps on wireless PEDs. It is geographically well distributed, and it’s up and down the spectrum of airline service types.”
Look forward to additional customer announcements in the weeks and months ahead.
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