Today in Apple’s history: iPods are skyrocketing

November 14, 2006: Apple is teaming up with a number of airlines to offer the “first seamless integration” between the iPod and the in-flight entertainment system.

A special base station will allow iPod owners to play music and videos on screens on the backs of airplane seats. The plan promises that the world will get rid of old-fashioned in-flight movies and aviation magazines.

IPods in flight rise, rise, and depart

Apple’s announcement on November 14 covered six airlines: Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United. All, Apple claims, will offer iPod seat connectors starting in mid-2007.

“There’s no better travel companion than the iPod, and now passengers can power their iPods during the summer and even watch their iPod movies and TV shows on seat back screens,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of global iPod product marketing on time. “We are excited to work with Air France, Continental, Delta, Emirates, KLM and United to offer iPod users an even better in-flight experience.”

A brief controversy ensued, when KLM and Air France dropped their promises. “It is too early to confirm any such details,” an Air France spokeswoman told Reuters. A KLM spokesman said: “It is very premature what Apple is saying.”

Both suggested that – while preliminary talks were being held – no agreement has yet been reached. “We have no idea whether this is technically feasible, whether it is financially feasible or whether customers want it,” the KLM representative added.

Still, Apple said it would continue with its other partners.

iPod in airplanes: iClub a mile high

Zune was not part of the in-flight entertainment revolution.  The iPod was.
Zune was not part of the in-flight entertainment revolution.
Photo: Microsoft

Afterwards, analysts discussed the impact of iPod docking stations. Would you encourage flyers to choose certain airlines? In theory, participating airlines could benefit from the same “halo effect” as Apple products.

Another controversy erupted after the discovery that docking stations would not work with Microsoft’s Zune music player. Microsoft’s newly developed competitor for the iPod has never found appeal in the market. Zune’s incompatibility with aircraft docks showed that, just a decade after Microsoft’s peak, the company was losing technological culture wars with Apple. (Microsoft left Zune in 2012, allowing it to die a slow death.)

Today, Apple technology continues to transform air travel. Flyers watch videos, read books, and listen to music and podcasts on iPad, iPhone, and MacBook devices. (Australian Qantas Airlines began offering iPad in-flight entertainment on its Jetstar flights back in 2010.)

Passengers flash digital boarding passes from their iPhones and Apple watches at security checkpoints and jet lane entrances. iBeacons also help make air travel easier and easier than ever.

Many pilots also use Apple devices. American Airlines discarded the heavy flying manuals of 2013 in favor of the iPad. In a move designed to save more than a million dollars in fuel costs each year, American became the first major commercial carrier to introduce the iPad in all of its cockpits.

The iPod may be a virtually forgotten part of Apple’s product line. However, this episode of “Today in the History of Apple” reminds us of what a cult product it was at one point – and how almost everyone (possibly except KLM and Air France!) Got into the car.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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