Thanks to everyone who contributed to the 40th anniversary issue of APEX Experience. There were many aspects of the association’s history that we didn’t get to touch on and some submissions that didn’t make it to print. Here is some bonus content that was not included in the magazine. Enjoy!
What was the landscape of the in-flight entertainment industry like in the early days?“We were still delivering physical elements to airlines by sneaker mail. Few airlines offered the choices they deliver today. The rapid digital delivery advances that affected all sectors of the entertainment and media hit the in-flight entertainment community fast and hard. Passengers expected to be offered on board the same options available to them in their living rooms at home. The IFE industry scrambled to make that happen.”
– Lee Casey, very special advisor, West Entertainment
What was the impetus behind the formation of the association?
“There was a need to combine programming availability of movies, shorts and music from distributors, which were scattered all over the world, into one marketplace, widening the amount of vendors and facilitating greater choice of programming. The association also started the standardization of cost structures and the formats into which such programming needed to be translated, as well as providing some rudimentary encryption to protect copyright. One must remember that IFE systems were lagging way behind their counterparts on the ground. Airlines had to make do with enormous Super 8 cassettes which were known for seizing up. They also couldn’t be rewound and cabin crew had to insert a spare cassette and start the film right from the beginning, which frustrated both passengers and crew.”
– Ruth Rosenbrock, former WAEA president (South African Airways)
What is APEX’s greateat achievement?
“The great value of the association is education. There’s a true emphasis on explaining how things work – not only technically, but also from a business standpoint. In the EXPO educational sessions, we hear about products and services, which business models work and how to cost justify certain products. Just being able to share that information and have an open forum where you can get a broader picture is valuable.”
– Doug Backelin, former APEX president (American Airlines) and APEX Technology Committee member
What were your first impressions of APEX EXPO?
“When I first joined WAEA, I was working for Airbus so I had come across a number of people from the hardware manufacturers, but I basically didn’t know anybody on the content side of the business, which was a significant proportion of the membership. My first impressions were that it was a little bit of a closed shop and everyone seemed to know everybody else, but that quickly dissipated. I made friends and broadened my network within the association and felt early on that this was the right place to be.”
— Jon Norris, vice-president, Marketing, FlightPath3D, and former APEX board member
How has APEX grown?
“APEX has gone from being an annual show and marketplace to being a global association. There were a lot of us back in the day when I was on the board that were pushing for more regional participation and events. And APEX can now put its flag in the ground and say it’s an international organization instead of just a West Coast California thing – even though the EXPOs seem to have found a home there given that that’s where a lot of the suppliers are.”
— Neil James, consultant and former APEX board member
What makes working in this industry so great?
“I have spent almost 20 years in the IFE industry: nowhere near as long as most of the people I have had the privilege over the years of meeting and forming great friendships with. Most, I’m sure, would share my view that this industry is unique and feels more like a family than an industry sometimes. Rarely do people depart the industry or, if they do, they are pulled back in or they change their hats from airline side to vendor side. There are so many opportunities to branch out skillsets, to live and travel all over the world, and to share experiences over decades. Many of you have become lifelong friends to whom I am so grateful.”
– Sally Lythgo, marketing manager, Burrana
In your opinion, what has ensured APEX’s success over the years?
“The association was blessed with so many talented folks who volunteered on the board and committees, both men and women, from airlines as well as vendors. Those who volunteered earned the respect of their peers. There was always competition for a seat on the board – unlike some organizations that have to twist arms to get people to volunteer. To me that’s a sign of a healthy organization.”
— Janice Daniello, formerly of Post Modern Group
Looking back over the years, what do you appreciate most about APEX?
“In celebration of APEX’s 40th anniversary, I reflect upon the doors this organization opens to airlines and vendors alike looking to make a difference in the passenger experience. The conference is a forum that brings together those who make this effort their vocational objective. It has always been like this and these relationships go beyond the office to tried and true trustful friendships that last a lifetime. Happy 40th APEX! Thank you!”
– Diane E Boush, formerly of Inflight Productions