Air up there next frontier for marketers

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The air has become another frontier to conquer for marketers to reach business travelers. Airplane manufacturer Boeing has enabled planes with wireless hookups on 100 routes through its Connexion division, and in July Internet portal Yahoo signed on to provide search-engine service for the planes, including access to 100,000 advertisers that buy sponsored links.

"A passenger on a Connexion plane will open up their wireless laptop and use it much the same way they would in a Wi-Fi-enabled coffee shop or inside an airport," said Niels Steenstrup, director-product management at Connexion by Boeing. The service costs fliers between $9.95 for an hour to $29.95 for up to six hours.

A Yahoo-branded search box appears after the passenger logs on to the Internet. The user can then go to any search engine or URL, but "it brings Yahoo one click closer to the user," Mr. Steenstrup said.

The airlines using the service are China Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Japan Airlines, ANA and Singapore Airlines. Five more have said they want to install the system. None are U.S. airlines.

Wi-Fi is a value added service for customers-a way for an airline to differentiate itself from its rivals, said Julie Ask, research director, Jupiter Research. "If it's a business person traveling internationally and paying up to $8,000 for a ticket, they will be willing to pay a little more for Wi-Fi."

Consumers Willing to Pay for Public Hotspots

* 15% used public Wi-Fi in 2004

* 36% of them pay for the service

* 20% used public Wi-Fi in 2005

* 42% of them pay for the service

Source: Jupiter Research

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