Wednesday, April 30, 2008

case study: social media in your seat

...airline seat, that is. AdAge gives us this look at Virgin America's clever uses for new technology in its passenger seats, an innovation that gives customers more options--and power. Called "Red," the new system:
...shows on-demand movies and satellite TV, of course, but it also has video games, a nicely curated collection of music videos and more than 3,000 MP3s. There's seat-to-seat text chat, and Virgin will add satellite-enabled internet access, including Wi-Fi if you're lugging your own computer, later this year. But the truly brilliant thing about Red is that it uses its elegantly designed, Linux-based touch-screen interface as a virtual refrigerator that you can peer into anytime you get thirsty or hungry.
OK, I like the nimble food ordering, too (it's all credit-card powered, and favored by flight attendants). But seat-to-seat text capability takes an airplane's captive audience and turns it into a moving global village, creating a community even if everyone's stuck in rows. I also like this as an example of a company that's using new media options in ways that remake--for the better--their customers' experiences. Consider this when you're mulling how to make the best use of your new technology for key audiences.

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