AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021 - 49

said Bill Stone, Garmin's senior business development
certification, and that can significantly outweigh the costs
manager, with a chuckle.
of producing hardware."
At the same time, consumers expect them, Stone
Amortizing software development costs across an
noted. Consumers won't write the check until they get that
unknown number of products is difficult. "The more you
deal.
sell, the lower the cost of the product, but you don't know
"From a marketer's standpoint, even though they hate
how many you are going to sell," Stone said. "With large
it, it gives us more arrows in the quiver," he said.
development costs typically at risk, it's moving beads on
Despite consumer expectations, "show specials" are not
the abacus."
universal. In the nicest way possible, original equipment
Ultimately, Uczekaj believes that the expectations of
manufacturers must explain to consumers that there is
"free" update functionality between a pilot's personal and
no show special on popular products
flying life will harmonize. Obviously,
with delivery waiting lists because
"the logistics of that still need to be
their sales don't need incentives.
worked out, but the concept is where
"Consumers have a different view
we are headed. The challenge for us is
of things, different expectations," said
deciding what we charge for and what
John Uczekaj, president and chief
we do not charge for. What is part of
executive officer of Aspen Avionics.
an app upgrade, and what is truly a
"A consumer, naturally, wants lower
new functionality?"
costs all the time, but they are also
Some OEMs provide more
expecting that their flying lives
functionality and better displays
are more in tune with the digital
through new hardware. Call it the oldenvironment of their personal lives,
school iPhone paradigm; the hardware
and that seems reasonable."
has just enough digital horsepower
It is a subtle change as the
to run the operating system and
avionics industry digitizes. It began
applicable apps. Perhaps this is a
with glass cockpits, whose first
continuation of an analog mindset,
customers were flight departments
where new hardware was the only way
and airlines, who were concerned
to deliver new capabilities.
with fleet costs and standardization.
Given the pace of technology,
The general aviation consumer has
a more efficient and economical
different expectations.
strategy is to build hardware with
Synthetic vision is built into all Aspen
"In their daily digital lives, people
more computing horsepower than the
Evolution systems, and an SD card unlocks
are getting upgrades on their phones,
initial application needed, according to
this capability for a 10-hour incentive.
tablets and home systems," Uczekaj
Dan Schwinn, president and CEO of
said. "These expectations are starting
Avidyne.
"We designed our first-generation products 25 years
to bleed into our world. OEMs have to start working to
ago," Schwinn said. "They kind of ran out of gas after
meet those expectations."
10 years in terms of new features, whereas our current
Cost is what separates aviation from everyday life
generation has had a lot of legs and still have room to grow.
in the digital realm. Most of the apps on a pilot's phone
That enables us to provide major upgrades. Maybe we
and tablet add more features and functionality through
charge for them, maybe we use them as an incentive."
free updates. Given the consequences of unfulfilled
Synthetic vision is an example, said Tom Harper,
promises of reliable functionality, aviation is not so free or
Avidyne's marketing director. Designed as an option, it was
freewheeling.
also an opportunity to reward existing customers by giving
"Certification costs certainly affect the price of what we
them a free upgrade. "It turned satisfied customers into
do, so we have to take that into consideration," Uczekaj
big fans because they effectively got something they were
said.
never promised for nothing."
"Software is not well understood," Stone said. There
seems to be no money in the digital ones-and-zeros,
"except for the millions spent on development and
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AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021

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AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021 - Intro
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AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021 - Cover3
AEA Pilot's Guide 2020-2021 - Cover4
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