Mobile media company JiWire, in conjunction with Row 44, has announced the world's first ad-supported Wi-Fi shopping network for commercial airlines. Carriers Southwest and Alaska are already installing the system on their existing planes.
An audience apparently receptive to such a service. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, 76% of business travelers surveyed said they were likely to choose an airline based on Wi-Fi availability, while 70% would prefer Wi-Fi service over meal service on flights.
While not the first service to offer Wi-Fi sytems for airlines (Virgin has Aircell), JiWire is focused on an ad-supported model for Skytown Center, a virtual shopping mall that users will be able to access free whether they pay for internet access or not.
It will call upon an existing stable of 100 advertisers which are lined up to reach a very captive audience.
For its part, Row 44 will provide and install the equipment for the airline and set pricing with them, while JiWire will be responsible for connecting users to the actual network. The benefit to the airline here is that it helps them manage costs associated in offering travelers Wi-Fi access, especially given how many people seem to expect wireless wherever they go these days.
JiWire is expected to launch this fall.