There's been plenty to be said in the press recently about airline content and distribution. American Airlines has made rumblings in this space for several years now and recently has been turning up the "heat," leaving some confused about the future. Hold on, there might just be a simple solution - it is called choice.
For some, this has been a broken record playing over and over, for five+ years now. (BTW, records are made of vinyl and used long before CDs and the digital music era, for those who are too young.) We have witnessed a long game of "tug-of-war" between the dominant distribution providers, the GDS themselves and the airlines. At the end of the day, the argument and winner are the GDSs. Why? Because they are very efficient, have been good at maintaining the leadership position in airline distribution, they have many happy travel agents and major TMCs earning huge revenues, lastly, they have successfully delivered for years. However, there might just be a paradigm shift in the making and about to occur.
Let's consider another industry - look back at the mobile phone business. Before Apple's iPhone came along, the wireless providers gave us phones for free if you would sign a contract. (I guess they still do this.) Consequently, we as users got new phones every couple of years and we were happy. We kept paying the phone company, not the manufacturer of the phone - that is a key point. We remained loyal to our content provider. Then along came Apple and the "iPhone effect" - a real game changer. We have to pay for the phone we want now - making a real choice. Apple had created a fundamental shift in the paradigm. What happened was the revenues shifted from the content providers, in this case the telco's (Verizon, ATT, etc.) to the manufacturer, Apple. Resulting in more revenues for the manufacturer from the Apple App store; then others followed like Blackberry and Droid with their own versions.
Will there be an American Airlines app store anytime soon? Good or bad idea? Can this happen in the airline business? There are successful airlines that follow these dynamics today and similar to the shift Apple created, by owning or keeping the revenues on distribution - Southwest comes to mind, there are others. Will and can AA be successful with their direct connect strategies? I welcome your readers to weigh in on this, so let us know what you really think.