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Google In-Flight WiFi? 52

Posted by Hemos
from the we're-googling-in-the-air dept.
Google has been trying hard to be break into the Enterprise market, without notable success. The Formtek blog suggests that projects like this week's roll-out of free WiFi in Mountain View blur their focus from areas where they might achieve a higher ROI. Both Boeing's and Verizon's recent announcements of exiting the in-flight WiFi space might be an opportunity for Google to capture more attention from business eyeballs in airports and on-flight.

But highly unlikely.
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Google In-Flight WiFi?

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  • distrust of "?" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morie (227571) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:03AM (#16037298) Homepage
    Never trust a /. article with a question mark in the title

    Next: "Google may enter the console market but most likely not..."
  • Business Model (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:03AM (#16037299)
    Google has been trying hard to be break into the Enterprise market, but still hasn't been successful.
    I think the success of Google has been a very unique and new business model. In fact, this new business model is now one of the things that drives the internet forward making it a profitable tool for many businesses.

    When I think of Enterprise market, I think of more traditional bussiness models such as Product or Service in exchange for money. Google didn't achieve success through this kind of model and that may be a reason why they're having such a hard time breaking into the Enterprise market.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:04AM (#16037304)
    Seriously, we need to be discouraging flying unless it's over oceans. Wifi on the train could go a long ways towards making people even less inclined to use air transport instead of train transport. Even if a train is a little bit slower than a plane, if I can do some work and/or play on the train, I think I would be much more inclined to take it, esp. with the hand luggage debacle currently gripping air travel. Here in Germany where the trains are much faster than most of Amtraks, as far as I know there is no wifi on the ICEs. Last time I went to Japan(in May) there also wasn't any wifi service as far as I know.

    Train wifi should be much easier and cheaper than plane wifi, so why isn't there any interest in it?
  • I've learned never to discount possibilities, and Google employing WiFi somewhere other than Mountain View seems like a possibility. However...

    Doing anything with moving vehicles costs real money, and no more so than with airplanes, where the coverage has to be extremely broad, and the RF issues and internet routing are non-trivial. There's a reason why Boeing got out of the business: they couldn't make it cost effective. It's not that people don't want to send and receive mail periodically in the air, but they sure as heck don't do it in huge numbers at the price Connexion could deliver.

    Furthermore, there is an entrenched base in airports. Typically in the US it's a company like T-Mobile who *do* offer decent service at attractive rates. And what do people do when they get to their airport and jack in? They connect to their VPNs. So it's not like Google can even insert ads in that sort of environment or provide searching or what have you. So sure, they could offer a service, but it's got to go head to head with others with little technical advantage, if any, and perhaps some disadvantage, such as lack fo bilateral aggregation agreements.

    So, I look forward to more good stuff from Google, but let's keep reality in sight.
  • by five18pm (763804) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:12AM (#16037332)

    How is Google going to make money out of this? By "charging" people?

    Sure I can get some work done in-flight, but what with the Captain asking you to switch off all electronic equipment, 3 hour battery life of my laptop and my company prohibiting VPN access over unsecure wifi network, that work will be very little to matter. I am not sure I would shell out money for that. The work won't be worth even the reimbursement request.

  • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:16AM (#16037344)
    Au contraire. I think it would be really easy. JetBlue already has a directv dish on the plane, which means they can pump IP over it. (direct view, or something like that). It might be as trivial as sticking a linksys box to their directv receiver.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:36AM (#16037410)
    Plane: approx. 450 mph
    Train: maybe 100? mph ...not slightly slower. And for travel across long distances (a recent trip from Washington to Vegas comes to mind) the train is a non-starter. Three days of travel each way pretty much kills any casino/drinking/eating/loafing time.

    Realize that much air travel isn't aimed at city hopping, but rather getting somewhere more distant.
  • Re:Business Model (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday September 04, 2006 @09:46AM (#16037450)
    they sell advertising... in exchange for money.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:21AM (#16037599)
    I'm sure if we had a Mag-Lev from Chicago to New York, that was cheaper than flight, and had free Wi-Fi, and took up to two hours longer, people would take that instead of flying. Train seats are more comfortable than airplane seats, they've got a bunch of standard outlets, and plenty more amenities. If we had a true bullet train to make that trip, no more planes would fly from Chicago to New York, simply because those two extra hours the train would take to get there, passengers would instead spend at a crowded airport. True, a plane may be three times faster than a train (though not a Mag-Lev), but if as much time is spent at an airport as on a plane, then a Mag-Lev is a clear choice. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] talks about a Vac-Lev train as a replacement for transatlantic flights. With a top speed of 5000 mph and a 54 minute New York to London time, passengers wouldn't need WiFi. The only problem with this is that it' s pretty prohibitively expensive to build a tunnel of that caliber: Thousands of miles long, under the ocean, and built to sustain a vacuum. But that's a problem for the engineers.

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