Without question, one of the greatest new technologies the world has to offer is in-flight Wi-Fi
. There's hardly anything more liberating than knowing your six hour haul from NYC to SF will be eased with Wi-Fi access -- though an AC outlet would surely be nice. At any rate, research company In-Stat has issued a new report suggesting that nearly 800 airplanes will feature in-flight Wi-Fi by the end of 2009, and that the business will generate some $47 million in revenue worldwide.
In reality, 800 doesn't sound like an exceptionally large number, but when you consider
that just 25 planes in 2008 were equipped with fully-functioning in-flight Wi-Fi, you can understand the significance. If In-Stat is correct, the in-flight broadband market is still emerging and will grow well beyond $1 billion annually by 2012. Company analyst Daryl Schoolar noted that the market is "clearly gaining momentum, with deployments escalating in number." All we can say is that we certainly hope this pans out -- having the Internet on planes would be the ultimate excuse to not focus on just how cramped that coach class seat really is.
Recent research by In-Stat found the following:
In-flight broadband equipment revenue will nearly double between 2009
Competing providers include Aircell, Panasonic and Row44.
In-Stat forecasts over 200 million annual in-flight broadband connects
by 2013, with long-haul connects dominating over short-haul connects.
Connections from handheld devices will account for about 1/3 of
connects, with notebook computers accounting for 2/3.