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Airlines want to offer iTunes for inflight iPod downloads

Marc Perton

Companies that develop inflight entertainment (IFE) systems for airlines have been in discussions with Apple about integrating the iPod and iTunes into IFE systems, according to several of the companies. Proposed applications include seatback-based iPod docks with USB and charging ports, allowing passengers to charge song and video purchases to frequent-flyer miles, and adding other ecommerce applications. "Our interests are wider – not just Apple, but enabling any e-commerce on the aircraft. Music is one thing in that category we are working on," said an exec with Panasonic Avionics. However, numerous obstacles stand in the way of inflight downloads, including changing Apple's licensing, so that songs downloaded directly to an iPod in the air could later be copied back to a customer's hard drive, and the issue of licensing and payment while a plane is in international airspace. Then, there's the issue of getting Apple to participate in the first place. When asked for a comment by editors at  Flight International, the company issued what has to be one of our favorite "no comment" lines, especially for a technology company: "Apple never talks about the future." We'll keep that in mind.

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