Microsoft has added a new feature to the movie listings on MSN Mobile. You can buy tickets to movies right from the mobile web page. It only works with certain theaters and the actual ticketing is handled by MovieTickets.com, which I covered recently. Daring move by Microsoft given that this goes around carrier billing systems and mobile MSN is featured on most of the US carrier decks. Well maybe not so daring, I just followed the MSN link on the Boost Mobile (Sprint/Nextel prepaid) home page and the movie listings were nowhere to be found. Anybody on another carrier want to check this out and see if you can get to the "buy tix!" feature when entering the MSN portal through the carrier deck? To get to it scroll down to "Entertainment" on the MSN Mobile homepage, then select the "Movie Listings" link, enter your Zip Code and scroll through the listings. Here in San Francisco, about half the movies have the "buy tix!" link that takes you to a co-branded (MovieTickets.com and mobile MSM) page.
Whether you get to MovieTickets.com directly or through MSN, there's a new purchase option. You can now buy tickets with a credit card without registering. This is in addition to the option of registering a card with MovieTickets.com in advance. Perfect for impulse buyers who discover the "buy tix!" link on MSN and it should benefit MSN and MovieTickets.com by increasing sales.
I wonder if many will actually use the credit card feature? People are leery of entering CC info on the mobile web (without good reason, the https protocol and encryption are the same as on the "big" web). To me, the real barrier is that entering credit card information using a phone keypad is a royal pain. I'll give MovieTickets credit though, they have done everything they could to make it as easy as possible. They only ask for the card type (a dropdown), card number, security code, expiration month and year and billing zip code.
MovieTickets.com is also one of the few mobile sites that automatically switches the phone's input mode to numeric for fields like credit card number, security code and zip code. They use both
style='-wap-input-format: "*N";' Some mobile browsers recognize one, some the other and some like Opera Mini, sadly support neither!
MovieTickets.com adds a service charge, typically $1, to the price of each ticket. I never understood how the entertainment industry gets away with charging more for tickets purchased online when just about everything else costs less that way. Why is that? Do theaters not sell tickets to resellers like MovieTickets.com at a wholesale price like every other business? Can't MovieTickets.com make money on the markup between wholesale and retail like Amazon et al.?
I'm also rather surprised that MovieTickets.com doesn't support the use of Paypal and/or Google Checkout for purchases. Both services support mobile purchases with an easy login using the mobile number and user chosen numeric pin. While more people have credit cards than Paypal or Checkout accounts, it's so much easier to type your phone number and easily memorized pin than the arcane credit card number, expiration date and security code which no one remembers. Plus mobile Paypal or Google Checkout users are the early adopters of mobile payment technologies who are the most willing to trust and use a service like Mobile MovieTickets.com.