In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: In-Flight Internet Access: Although Much Wanted, Little Demand For It
2. Today's Top Story
- AOL Chief Technology Officer Resigns: Sources
- AOL To Dig For Spammer's Gold
3. Breaking News
- Microsoft Offers To Help Firefox Run On Vista
- Delta Air Lines Outsources Technology Operations To IBM
- Google Mobile Maps Smoothes Traffic Tie-Ups
- Google Ends 11-Month Run Of Market Gains
- Backup Power To Cost Data Centers More
- SanDisk Targets iPod With 8GB Music Player
- Backlash Feared Over New eBay Seller Fees
- What's In A Name? Ask Apple And Google
- Analysis: Now Is The Time To Consider Open Source CRM
- Acquisition Could Help Google Combine Image Search And Facial Recognition
- Virtual Linux Could Be Answer To Costly Data Centers
4. Grab Bag
- Holdout Bands Give In To iTunes (Wired)
- The FBI's Upgrade That Wasn't (Washington Post)
- How To Write Unmaintainable Code (Canadian Mind Products)
- Blog About End Times (Boing Boing)
5. In Depth: Dell
- Dell Customers Have To Wait Four Weeks For Replacement Batteries
- HP Gains Ground As Dell's Woes Continue
- U.S. Technology Shares Fall As Dell Stumbles
- Dell Announces New AMD-Based Desktops And Servers As Quarterly Financial Results Disappoint
- SEC, Directors Investigating Dell Fiscal Issues
6. Voice Of Authority
- Get Used To It: Mousy Hair, Chapped Lips, And Boredom En Route
7. White Papers
- Lessons Learned: How To Prevent PCI Audit Failure
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
Quote of the day:
"Guide to understanding a net addict's day:
Slow day: didn't have much to do, so spent three hours on usenet.
Busy day: managed to work in three hours of usenet.
Bad day: barely squeezed in three hours of usenet." -- Anonymous
1. Editor's Note: In-Flight Internet Access: Although Much Wanted, Little Demand For It
Many business travelersand I'm one of themspent the weekend scratching their heads over the inability of Boeing to make a go of its Connexion in-flight Internet access service.
Granted, it was a tough week to be wishing for niceties when a terrorist plot had just been foiledand when so many air passengers were happy just to settle into their regulation 17.2-inch seats and leave the gate. And as Mitch Wagner pointed out in his editor's note yesterdaybacked up by a plethora of excellent InformationWeek articles (see here, here, and here)perhaps the increased security precautions mean it's time to consider leaving our laptops at home. Of course, if you're flying in and out of London, you don't have a choice in the matter: it's no laptop or no go. But sooner or later things are going to calm down, and my guess is that laptops will continue to be a fixture for business travelers.
That said, there's a mystery at the heart of why Boeing needed to pull the plug on Connexion late last week. I don't mean a mystery about the business decision. Boeing reportedly spent more than $1 billion trying to keep the six-year-old program alive, and with just 11 airlines signed on, was obviously bleeding cash. And industry observers were speculating that Boeing chose last week to make its announcement precisely because of the backlash against laptops on board.
No, the mystery is why it failed. You'd think in-flight broadband would be a no brainer. After all, it's getting to the point when people won't even stop for a cup of coffee unless free Internet access is thrown in with the non-dairy creamer. So why wouldn't they jump with joy at the thought of ubiquitous connectivity at 30,000 feet?
Sure, it was pricey. You paid about $10 an hour, or $30 per flight, for the privilege of being online. Performance also could apparently be spotty (I never had the chance to use the service myself, so I'm going on published reports), as it depended on how many of your fellow travelers were online at the same time. Still, you would have thought that people's hunger to be connected would have outweighed these inconveniences.
I'm a perfect example. I'm no big spender, but I would have forked over my $30 in a heartbeat to be able to work online during the many tedious flights between San Francisco and Chicago I take every year. Judging from all the people who sigh when they have to log off (the San Francisco airport is one big hotspot) and board the plane, I don't think I'm alone.
I'd like to emphasize here that I'm arguing for in-flight Internet access, not cell phone use. Count me among the 85% of all travelers polled who say they'd rather slit their wrists than have to listen to someone else's inane cell phone conversation while being held captive in economy class. (OK, I'm paraphrasing. But I mean it.)
But connecting to the Internet instead of watching the latest Owen Wilson or Hilary Duff movie? I'm thereand so is everyone else I've talked to. In fact, I haven't run into a single person who thinks that a wired airplane is a bad idea. Even the people who love the idea of being occasionally unreachableand I sympathize, I sympathizerecognize that they can simply refrain from logging on. Like the old doctor joke goes, so doing that hurts? then don't do it. Unlike cell phone service, in-flight Internet access shouldn't inconvenienceor enrageyour neighbor.
Yet, puzzling enough, there was virtually no interest in the service. On the international flights that actually offered Connexion, usage was in the "low single digits," according to Boeing. And no one taking domestic planes even had the choice. Although Boeing inked major deals with United, American, and Delta in June 2001, Sept. 11 put an end to them. After that date, U.S.-based carriers were cutting, not adding, amenities for passengers.
That was part of the problem right there. Boeing had to sell the service to airlines, not to consumers. And airlines have simply not been in the position to spend money on what are viewed as extraneous features.
Happily, other options are on the way. Both Live TV, a subsidiary of JetBlue Airways, and AirCell have said they're working on in-flight Internet access services that they hope to have ready next year. Such services are expected to be cheaper, and of higher quality, than the Boeing offering. We'll see if the airlines find them attractive enough to offer to what I can't help still believe would be a very eager constituency.
What do you think? What would you pay to have unlimited Internet access while in flight? Are there any downsides to this being an option for air travelers? Let me know by responding to my blog entry.
AOL Chief Technology Officer Resigns: Sources
A researcher in AOL's technology research department and the employee's supervisor have also left the company in the wake of the disclosure of search data for over 500,000 customers, a source familiar with the matter said. AOL's not commenting.
Identity theft is on the rise across the globe. Learn how your peers are protecting customer data and managing privacy issues in the InformationWeek/Accenture Global Information Security survey.
Do You Access Our Content From A BlackBerry Or Treo?
Many of our readers do, and we want to ensure that you get the best experience in using our content. So we've created a PDA-friendly version of our news content, with similarly streamlined content pages, that should make the PDA experience a good one. Check out our latest enhancement.
How To Write Unmaintainable Code (Canadian Mind Products)
Java programmer Roedy Green, in the hopes of spurring job opportunities for other Javaheads, provides tips on how to write code that is so difficult to maintain that programmers can guarantee themselves a "lifetime" of easy employment keeping it up to date for their employers.
Blog About End Times (Boing Boing)
The Signs of Witness blog focuses on the increasing stream of news about religious people who believe that the world is about to endand have evidence that supposedly proves it.
Lessons Learned: How To Prevent PCI Audit Failure
Although protecting customer credit card information is a critical issue facing retailers, many companies have yet to implement systems that meet the PCI Data Security Standard's requirements. This paper identifies proven tactics that help companies achieve PCI compliance.
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