Jetstar partner reveals dirt on iPad delay

Jetstar partner reveals dirt on iPad delay

Summary: One of Jetstar's key iPad integration partners, Stellar Group, has told ZDNet Australia that a series of unfortunate events, like the Japanese tsunami and tough negotiations with Apple, culminated in a "comedy of errors", which caused ongoing delays in the plan to deploy the tablets onto the budget airline.

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TOPICS: Apple, iPad, Travel Tech
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One of Jetstar's key iPad integration partners, Stellar Group, has told ZDNet Australia that a series of unfortunate events, like the Japanese tsunami and tough negotiations with Apple, culminated in a "comedy of errors", which caused ongoing delays in the plan to deploy the tablets onto the budget airline.

Jetstar's iPad app

Jetstar's iPad app.
(Credit: Jetstar)

Jetstar's CIO, Stephen Tame, told ZDNet Australia in October 2010 that the iPads would hit Jetstar's fleet of A320 aircraft across the Asia Pacific by Christmas 2010. Only now, almost 12 months after the fact, are we seeing the tablets rolled out onto aircraft.

Michael Reilly, chief operating officer of Stellar Group, told ZDNet Australia at the launch of Jetstar's iPad product in Melbourne yesterday that prolonged negotiations with Apple, lengthy discussions with Hollywood studios, security concerns, natural disasters and new products in the market continually delayed Jetstar's iPad program.

"Mostly [the delays] were due to a few significant events. Firstly, there was working out the suitable enterprise licence with Apple. Then there was the consultations and approvals with Hollywood studios and large content providers.

"Then we had a lot of little things, like the transition from iPad 1 to iPad 2. We were very close to launching iPad 1, suddenly iPad 2 came along and Jetstar, from a product perspective, rightly said, 'we'll hold back and wait to see what we might do'. Then we had the Japanese tsunami. All of the solid state storage for iPad is built in Japan, so there was another delay there.

"There were so many things, it was a comedy of errors that happened along the way that led to this delay," Reilly said.

Stellar has been a Jetstar in-flight entertainment partner since 2008, before Steve Jobs announced the iPad on 28 January 2010. Stellar's mandate for the airline was to look at the carrier's in-flight entertainment offering, and work out how it could be improved. On 29 January 2010, Jetstar management told Stellar that they wanted the iPad on their airline as a top priority.

Stellar and Jetstar began negotiations for the device with Apple, which, at the time, according to Reilly, was a difficult process, as Apple was still a consumer organisation unfamiliar with enterprise-level negotiations.

"We spent a great deal of time working with Apple [when the iPad was released], finding out what was and was not acceptable when it came to the iPad. Obviously, being business to consumer organisation, they don't have a lot of enterprise applications, but we worked out an enterprise-level agreement with them eventually, and then it was a matter of proving to the content providers that getting content through iTunes was not the only acceptable business model. There were a number of three-way negotiations there," Reilly said.

Eventually, though, the iPad made its way onto Jetstar's fleet yesterday after over a year of delays, for a rental charge of between $10 to $15 for all flights over 2 hours.

Next stop, Dreamliner

Stellar retains its contract with Jetstar, and is now looking at future in-flight entertainment projects for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Jetstar expects to take delivery of Australia's first Dreamliner shortly, according to Jetstar boss David Hall, with innovative in-flight entertainment at the top of the tree for the airline.

Hall wouldn't be drawn on whether the iPad would be extended onto the Dreamliner, but Reilly said that he fully expects the devices to extend to the iconic jet.

Topics: Apple, iPad, Travel Tech

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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