Nice Onboard “Get” for Continental; JetBlue Pockets the Money


If you can’t say anything else about this industry, it’s this: We certainly see some strange bedfellows show up every now and then.

Today we have news of just such an example.

JetBlue has agreed to license its LiveTV product to Continental Airlines. This system will include 36 channels of DIRECTV. Oh, and yes, this deal will also include onboard email and instant messaging.  All “new generation” aircraft will be equipped, i.e., no 737-500s or 737-300s.

On the one hand, this is great news for JetBlue, as the deal will bring the airline a nice chunk of change. It could also mean that other airlines may now be more inclined to fork over their dineros to JetBlue,  one of their competitors.

On the other hand, until now, you could argue that JetBlue was the largest domestic airline that held a competitive advantage in terms of inflight IFE.

With Continental now putting the same product on the majority of their aircraft — that will no longer be the case.

My only beef with this deal is that the email capabilities are, at this point, just as limited as they are for the email service that JetBlue has been experimenting with. The JetBlue system will only allow users to access email utilizing Yahoo accounts, and Crackberrys.

And, as I understand it, there is no web-surfing ability.

This is different from systems currently offered from Row 44 and AirCell.

This is a limitation that I feel will need to be resolved at some point. Hopefully by the time CAL begins to unroll it (next January), this will no longer be the case. Then again, maybe the promise of those Continental dollars is just the investment “kick in the pants” the folks at LiveTV needed to get them across that next development hurdle.

Tickers: (NYSE:CAL); (Nasdaq:JBLU)

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