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Here's Why American Airlines Chose Samsung Over Apple When It Bought 17,000 Tablets

Julie Bort

American Airlines owns 33,000 tablets and that's one of the largest corporate deployments, period. 23,000 of them are from Samsung, not Apple.

American bought 17,000 Galaxy Notes last fall. The Note is sometimes called a "phablet" because it's part smartphone and part tablet.

The idea is to equip each flight attendant with a device that gives them ready access to the latest flight information and other customer service info.

The Note was an interesting choice because American already had iPads on its planes. American's pilots use some 10,000 iPads in the cockpit. American considered using iPads for its flight attendants, too.

One reason Samsung won is because it has been pushing hard to lure enterprise customers with programs like "Samsung For Enterprise (SAFE)." SAFE adds security and management features to all Samsung Galaxy devices.

Business Insider talked to Lisa Canada, AA's Managing Director of Operations Technology, to get the details.

BI: Why did you buy so many tablets and what are you doing with them?

Lisa Canada: We’ve started rolling out the Samsung Galaxy Note tablets this year to our flight attendants, who use the device to access customer information like preferences and gate connections to better serve travelers.

Our aircraft maintenance technicians also use a Samsung device – the Galaxy Tab, giving them a modern tool to better troubleshoot and address any aircraft issues. We also offer Samsung Galaxy Tabs to our Business Class customers on certain routes for a premium inflight entertainment experience.

BI: Why Samsung?

Lisa Canada: We chose Samsung devices for select workgroups after months of testing different devices and gathering employee feedback. We felt that Samsung’s tablets were best suited to our enterprise environment, plus we were able to make customizations to fit our needs.

BI: How important was SAFE to you?

Lisa Canada: SAFE provides additional administrative features which facilitates our development and device management.

BI: Why is this initiative important to AA?

Lisa Canada: Our priority is to make serving our customers easy and as intuitive as possible. This includes efforts such as rolling out tablets that simplify and modernize the American experience.

For instance, because of the applications we were using, we have also provided pilots with Apple iPads containing information and navigational charts. The iPads replaced the paper-based documents they used to carry around in cumbersome 35-pound pilot kitbags. Regardless of mobile platform, we are committed to providing employees with the best technology tools for their specific roles and responsibilities.

Stay tuned for BI Intelligence's in-depth report on how Samsung is winning tablet business over Apple in the enterprise.

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