Friday, May 29, 2009
The major U.S. Airlines (United, American, Delta, etc.) have all signed up with Aircell to offer its Gogo Wi-Fi service on its flights.
Boeing, meanwhile, scrapped its Connexion system - taking a $320 million pretax write-down of its investment.
Why did little Aircell succeed, while giant Boeing failed?
The answer is that Aircell followed the KISS principle, and kept it small and simple.
Connexion was a complicated system that bounced signals off satellites, and had 3 strikes:
1. It cost users $26.95.
2. It cost airlines $1 million per plane to install and took the plane out of service for 2 weeks.
3. It added 800 pounds to each airplane.
Aircell, on the other hand, started with the simple objectives that their system would add less than 100 pounds, would cost less than $100,000 per plane to install, and would require only one night of installation. Users would pay as little as $5.95.
They accomplished this by coming up with a simple and elegant way to cover the whole U.S. with only 92 cell towers. The only drawback is that their system will not work on overseas flights, but that is something they can work on for the next iteration.