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Snakes on a Plane Ground Connexion

The obituary has been written for Internet in the skies, at least so far as Boeing is concerned. The Big B has pulled the plug on its in-flight Internet service, Connexion, which could spell an end to Internet access in flight anywhere in the world for the time being. (The second death for Boeing is that it’s the end of their plans to build multibillion-dollar satellite-based businesses.)

“Boeing built Connexion around a late 1990s business plan, and I had always seen its post-9/11 existence as proof that it was the then-CEO’s pet project. There is no love for Phil Condit in Seattle, where I live, as he decided for what appears to be no particular reason nor financial advantage to have moved the company’s headquarters to Chicago. Most of its operations and a lot of key staff remain here, while Condit was ousted in 2003 over fallout from the US Air Force tanker deal,” says columnist Glenn Fleishmann.

Putting 800 pounds of equipment on a plane and charging $30 a flight to use the Internet at 35,000 feet seemed completely reasonable. But then 9/11 hit. The airline industry sunk. The economy briefly supertanked. An 800-pound monkey now seemed untenable.

There’s no other service in the running yet to offer global Internet access. In fact, there’s no other generally available commercial Internet service in flight at all right now. AirCell will blanket North America with broadband—they will eventually have permission and partners to deploy over not just the US, but Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. OnAir and Aeromobile plan European launches by next year of cell service. [24×7]

WhitePages.com Launches Centers
WhitePages.com, the leading provider of online directory assistance services, today announced the launch of WhitePages.com Centers, a set of task-oriented special content areas for WhitePages.com consumers seeking helpful information related to a specific need including planning a wedding, buying a car, moving or embarking on a home improvement project.

Beginning today, consumers who visit WhitePages.com can access the new Wedding, Auto, and Moving and Home Improvement Centers through the site’s Tools and Utilities page. In November, consumers will be able to access the WhitePages.com Holiday Center. Each center contains special relevant features and articles, and was developed to give WhitePages.com users added value that extends beyond basic contact information.

“Customers have told us that our site is especially helpful when they are in the middle of a major life event, such as planning a wedding,” said Susie Kang, senior vice president, WhitePages.com. “This makes sense if you consider the research and various mailing tasks associated with planning this type of event. By combining business and residential directory search tools with added tips, tricks and other special features in these task-relevant centers we serve our customers better.” [24×7]

SocialMediaClub.org to Build a Community for Social Media Professionals
SocialMediaClub.org (SMC) officially launched this week to elevate Social Media to a higher level of professionalism. The organization brings together different groups of social media practitioners such as bloggers, podcasters, publishers, journalists, students, artists, developers, marketers, and PR professionals.

SocialMediaClub.org was formed to share best practices, establish ethics and standards, and promote media literacy around the emerging area of Social Media. SMC was founded by Chris Heuer, serial Internet entrepreneur and executive director of the not-for-profit BrainJams.org.

According to Heuer, “This is the beginning of a global conversation about building an organization and a community where the many diverse groups of people who care about social media can come together to discover, connect, share, and learn.”

SMC hosted its inaugural event this week in Silicon Valley to organize its first local chapter and to begin work on the hRelease, a new standard for modernizing the traditional press release for a Web-centric world. The group will announce an official Working Group dedicated to the New Media Release soon. [24×7]

Qwest, Where’s Your Spirit?
Seattle has long been considering a fiber optic citywide network, and Qwest has opposed the plan. Despite having absolutely no plan to ever offer anything faster than 7Mbps in the region, the telco has consistently complained about the project. A Seattle Times reporter sat down with Qwest CEO Dick Notebaert and asked him why his company is slacking when it comes to faster broadband in the Pacific Northwest.

Notebaert’s hemming and hawing over the timeline for serious upgrades is nothing new. Qwest is saddled with some $15 billion in debt and has no direct wireless phone revenue, leaving Notebaert in the position of having to wait and see if his company survives first. The company has offered very geographically limited IPTV service in Colorado, Omaha, and Arizona.

Notebart is also likely stalling on serious upgrades because he believes the telco could be a tasty acquisition target. The CEO dropped the hint in a recent NY Times report. Industry analyst Dave Burstein opines that the CEO may be planning to pull up stakes “before cable VOIP, Seattle and Utah municipal networks, and wireless substitution clobber the company.” [24×7]

Snakes On a Plane & On Your Phone
Mixxer, the heavily funded Seattle mobile music community, said it will begin offering free ring tones, video clips and screensavers for the upcoming action film “Snakes on a Plane” starring Samuel L. Jackson.