Friday, August 15, 2008

StrollOn, ipods and Aeroplanes

Big News. Or at least it was on 14th November 2006 when Tony Smith at Register Hardware reported that 6 major airlines had agreed to fit their passengers’ seats with ipod docks. The docks and connectors (enabling each ipod access to the in-fligt entertainment system) were to be added mid 2007.

The results of this proposed exercise were that the passenger would be able to keep their ipods powered up on long journeys, as well as play ipod-stored content (including video content) on seat-back screens. Apple’s partner in crime was announced as being Panasonic Avionics, a company that specialises in in-flight entertainment and communications systems.

According to Tony Smith and confirmed by Darren Cronian on 15th November 2006 at the six carriers were Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United.

Whilst this all appeared to be very exciting, it was not exactly clear for whom: Apple, the Airlines or the passenger? Whilst the deal was clearly beneficial to both of the former, neither Apple nor any of the Airlines were so kind as to clarify which class of traveller would get ipod connectivity, leaving Smith to suspect that “it’ll be those whose seats command higher ticket prices to start off with”.

Travis Hudson at Gizmodo asked what this meant for the passenger. The main answer was that this would be a more enjoyable flying experience as you can listen to and watch your ipod content knowing that it won’t run out of batteries. According to Greg Joswiak, Apple’s Vice-President of Worldwide Product Marketing, "there is no better traveling companion than an iPod.”

Whilst we at StrollOn completely agree, Greg, the point is at what extra cost? How much was this development going to cost passengers. As Travis Hudson says, “as long as it doesn’t increase the price of an airline ticket from an arm, to an arm and a leg” then we should all be happy with this development.

Just as a few people we beginning to get more excited about both the idea and the possibility of any associated price rise, PC World’s Jonny Evans uncovered evidence suggesting that the concept was not yet quite to everyone’s liking. Air France and KLM (representing France and Holland respectively – perhaps two of the world’s more stubborn nations) denied that definitive plans existed, claiming: “it is way too early to confirm any such details”. KLM went further, declaring that Apple’s claims were “premature” to the extent that “at this point in time we have absolutely no intention of introducing it on board”.

And what of Apple’s response? To put out the flames, the corporation brought in Tom Neumayr, who was positive about the chances of success having put the above issue down to “miscommunication”. He went on to draw attention to the other carriers and the fact that they had not yet denied anything, before mentioning that Apple expected more deals of this nature.

But this was all in 2006. What is the situation now, or has the concept died in its infancy?

Fast forward to 2008 and there have been some serious developments, according to an article on Opodo, 16th may 2008. Singapore Airlines have got in on the act, launching flights on 15th May between Singapore and Newark, offering iPhone and ipod connectivity via its KrisWorld entertainment system. At this stage it can only be used by those on the carrier’s all-business class flights between the two destinations and will be available on similar flights to LA come August.

Yap Kim Wah of Singapore Airlines observed that “this is yet another example of our philosophy of creating customer satisfaction by providing an enhanced sense of choice and control”. I look forward to what customers have to say about the experience, but admit that there is quite some reason to be positive at this stage. Especially when you read the particulars, as per Pocket Lint:

• Each seat will feature a 15.4 inch widescreen LCD screen, active noise-cancellation headphones and support for USB thumb drives so that the user can view holiday snaps with photo viewer or watch videos on media player.

• Any instructions over the intercom will temporarily freeze the system. The airline is not allowing use of the iPhone as a wireless communications device – it is only operable via the integrated in flight system, which charges the ipod at the same time.

Most recently, on 24th July, unearthed some more interesting developments. Having been one of the original six to supposedly agree to the deal over 2 years ago, United has become the first US airline to introduce ipod and iphone connectivity. But it was not midway through 2007. Clearly and unsurprisingly this has been a time consuming and expensive development.

On United, the service is aimed primarily at transatlantic routes at this stage, with the first flight offering the service flying from Washington DC to Zurich. It is reported that the airline does intend to refit its entire international fleet of wide-bod aircraft by 2010, suggesting that ipod and iphone connectivity will be available for everyone.

For now, it is clear that this “development will allow passengers in first and business class seats to play content from their devices” ( Well come on businessmen and women, roll up and download our new Sixty Minute City. We made it with you in mind and now you have the perfect opportunity to listen to the content and land at you destination informed and in control.

Come on, StrollOn...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Big News

And finally we StrollOn is approaching where we feel you, the user, want us to be. After a few months in production we are about to release our free city overviews. We have produced ones for London, Paris, Prague and Amsterdam and we are about to have all of them downloadable from our website.

These audio guides are about 20 minutes in length and divided into bitesize chapters, covering the History and culture of the city, where to eat, nightlife, pleasure and pastimes, what to do in an emergency, how to get around, money and shopping as well as detailed what you have to do before you leave. A lot of this information will be used in the introductory section of our next product, the "Sixty Minute City" which is still in production. As a result we would love you to download the free city overview and give us some feedback. Or another way of helping would be to fill in our questionnaire:

Click Here to take survey

It only takes about 5 minutes and it will help us in fine tuning both this product as well as the Sixty Minute City. So keep your wallet in your pocket and give it a go - something that you can do when sitting vacantly at your computer - and talk to us. It is ,after all, what we are all about.

until then, StrollOn...

A World of Audio guides, Walks and iPods

About StrollOn

Hello and welcome to StrollOn, where we produce audio guides and audio tours of London, Paris and an ever-expanding list of major european cities. We have also developed our free city overviews and "Hot spots" (individual audio commentaries for individual sights and attractions). Whichever product interests you we simply ask that you select the relevant audio guide or audio tour on our website and download the mp3 files onto your iPod or other mp3 player, thereby turning your iPod into your "GuidePod".

As you will see from the this blog, we are a new company, providing recently developed products on our website. We've set up this blog so that we can tell you all about us as you join us from our infancy. And we are actively looking for feedback, both on the website and the blog. We don't want you to help us simply to become the biggest, but we do want you to help us become the best walking audio tours company.