A consumer survey conducted by IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS Inc. (NYSE:IHS)) which examined inflight Wi-Fi usage in the U.S. this year has found that, on flights lasting longer than one hour, passengers who used a personal electronic device (e.g. tablets and smartphones) onboard spent, on average, over 40 percent of their flight time on it.
The survey asked more than 1,000 U.S. respondents the percentage of flight time they spent using at least one of their electronic devices. Although less than 30 percent of respondents did not use any personal electronics devices during flight, of those who did, almost 50 percent used the devices for up to 40 percent of their flight time. Approximately 8 percent of respondents spent more than 80 percent of their time on at least one of their electronic devices.
Rose Yin, market analyst at IMS Research, commented, “Although not all passengers use inflight Wi-Fi, it is clear that many still brought along and made use of their electronic devices to help pass time onboard. We also found that regardless of whether inflight Wi-Fi is offered or not, the amount of time spent on these devices varies little; as passengers can just prepare enough offline content prior to boarding to help entertainment themselves later on.”
Further breakdowns showed that MP3 players are the most popular device used inflight, with almost a third of respondents using them onboard, followed closely by laptop PCs. Despite the rapid growth in uptake of tablet PCs, fewer than 1 in 5 passengers made use of these during flight. However, this proportion is still much higher than the percentage ownership of tablet PCs in the general population, and is expected to continue to rise in the future.
“With the trend of ‘bring-your-own-device’ growing in the air, airlines are continuing to look into opportunities to offer an enhanced service to passengers, from wireless in-flight entertainment to in-flight Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity,” Yin added. “One of the key challenges is to offer something that passengers are willing to pay extra for, whether it’s content or games they can download and enjoy, or access to the Internet to check emails and use social networks. Additionally, airlines that seek to target users need to keep in mind that there is already a wealth of content and games people can download for little or no cost prior to boarding. However, if airlines can offer the right product for these devices at the right price, the potential for ancillary revenue could be significant.”
As the bandwidth provided by in-flight connectivity improves, IMS Research projects that in-flight Wi-Fi and other wireless offerings for consumer devices will have a profound effect on the future landscape of the in-flight entertainment market.
About the “Passenger Survey – In-flight Connectivity Usage and Experience – 2012 Edition” report
The airline industry is currently experiencing rapid change with regard to the provision of in-flight entertainment and connectivity. Wireless IFE streamed to passenger electronic devices (PEDs) such as tablets, smart phones, notebooks and games consoles, has the potential to change the traditional seat-back business model. Meanwhile, connectivity has arrived and, in the U.S. at least, is already an established offering on domestic flights. In other parts of the world, connectivity is also gaining a foothold, but many airlines are still wary of making the substantial investment required to equip their fleets.
Despite this, little detailed research work has been done to date to understand the passenger side of the equation. This report addresses this omission. It presents detailed findings based upon a survey of passengers who have flown recently in the U.S. and examines their attitudes and opinions with regard to in-flight connectivity and the PEDs that they bring with them when they fly.