Boeing closes Connexion - and I thought they were just being rude!

Missing the boat

Comment I recently interviewed Boeing (Farnborough International Air show) and couldn't get a word out of them about Connexion By Boeing - their inflight WiFi/satellite service. Now, I find that Connexion has gone bust.

You really hate it as a journalist when you get to a scoop, interview the rignt people, and simply don't realise that something serious is going down. Examples abound of reporters going to interview a CEO and being kept waiting for four hours - then going home in a huff, to find that the reason for the delay was that the factory was burning down or the Financial Director being carted off in handcuffs, or similar.

I'll admit, I was deeply miffed by the way Boeing treated me, but I put it down to the normal old-world arrogance of the airline business. There I was, at Farnborough, trying to get a wireless story of real importance, and the bar-stewards wouldn't even dig out the executive responsible? Ha!

So I tossed off a comment piece, and went home to find out more interesting things. Meanwhile, the executive responsible was unavailable, not just because of a sense of superiority, but because of a sense of being fired.

It's happened to me before. I had a big interview lined up with Dennis Hayes, founder and president of Hayes - the modem company - at Comdex in Las Vegas. I arrived at the suite for the interview, and was told that Big Den was unavailable.

And so would you have been, in the circumstances: Big Den had flown back to Atlanta to deal with a small matter of Chapter XI bankruptcy procedings for Hayes Inc.

I think Peter Judge's story about Panasonic's replacement technology probably tells what happened best. It seems that one of the problems facing Connexion was the "pioneer penalty" - their equipment is already obsolete, and weighs too much. Just getting all that electronic gear off the ground and up to 35,000 feet was costing the airlines more than they could recoup from fee-paying Internet sky-surfers.

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