PLANS by aviation.X.com to build an online marketplace for the aerospace industry have been left on the runway after the sector’s biggest players joined forces to launch their own exchanges.
The e-business start-up has revised its strategy and abandoned plans for a full-scale marketplace, raising questions about the ability of independent business-to-business exchanges to compete with those backed by a sector’s biggest spenders.
When it launched late last year, aviation.X.com said it would provide the first `neutral’ e-marketplace to the over 25,000 buyers, sellers and intermediaries of the $350bn-a-year industry.
However, in March a consortium of heavyweights including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and Raytheon revealed plans to develop their own internet trading exchange.
The following month, six of the world’s biggest airlines, including British Airways, unveiled their e-marketplace, which they said would include trading in components and maintenance services.
Mitch Baranowski, head of corporate communications for aviation.x.com, said the company realised that gaining the `critical mass of buyers and suppliers’ needed to make a full-scale electronic marketplace viable would be unrealistic with so many of the industry’s behemoths – and almost certainly their suppliers – committed elsewhere.
`E-business is developing all the time, and like all internet start-ups we have to adapt to the market. It seems at the moment that the big industry players may be better placed to provide that critical mass,’ said Baranowski.
However, he remains bullish about the future prospects for aviation.X.com, which he said would focus on developing web-based software applications aimed at improving operational efficiency – especially for the smaller, regional operators.
The change of direction also shows that B2B is not immune from the jitters which have plagued high-profile B2C internet ventures. Baranowski said the dumping of new technology stocks in the US in April had `accelerated our thinking about where we need to be.’
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