We know that Apple has a propensity for patenting anything that moves, and most of them don't see the light of day. But Patently Apple has written, in copious detail, about a very interesting one called Concert Ticket+. I would bet money on the likelihood of this one becoming a reality. It all starts with buying concert tickets through iTunes and syncing it with your iPhone. Then, when you get to the concert, the electronic ticket will be received either by a manned or unmanned turnstile using Near Field Communication (NFC). This is the same technology that starts a Prius without a key, or is embedded in my Lexus car key. When turning on the car, an NFC connection must be wirelessly transmitted or the car won't start. It also takes into account other methods of authentication such as bar code scanning.
It doesn't stop there. Lots of other information can be provided once the ticket is registered as being collected. E-Tickets for food and merchandise discounts can also be stored on the iPhone and when presented to get a cheaper T-Shirt or soda, the amount spent can be deducted from your iTunes account. Impulse purchasing of apps has been tremendously successful and that concept can be easily transferred from the app store to the concert hall. An electronic coupon for $5.00 off a T-shirt is going to sell a lot of T-shirts.
The patent also provides for value added services either free or at a price. You'd probably be able to obtain a concert schedule, lyrics to what is being played or a set-list for free, but if you want a recording of the show you've attended, that can be made available for a price.
The patent goes far beyond concerts. The same thing can be used for tickets to just about anything including Sporting Events, Broadway shows, Museums and Amusement Parks. All of these are chock full of opportunities for impulse purchasing. Just think of all the things you might be coaxed into buying while at Disney World.
It also provides for, and here I think this isn't as much of a lock as entertainment ticketing, a Wedding Invitation System that would provide assistance for wedding party members including tickets for discounts on formal wear and maps to the discounted stores, accommodations, and even holding the wedding program. It also allows value added sales of wedding pictures or videos and audio recordings of the ceremony.
Also included is a Conference Ticket System. After getting you into the Macworld Expo, it'll be a cinch for the guards to know which sessions you've paid for and may attend. If the session is recorded, holding your iPhone near a kiosk can transfer the recorded session for later use. The possibilities just go on and on.
What's in it for the event promoters are increased sales ($1.00 off a beer after the 5th inning of a baseball game), to lowering labor costs by replacing a goodly number of ticket takers with unmanned kiosks or turnstiles. And we've already heard about ad-hoc social networks on the iPhone -- that would work well with a system like this to get people sharing information about what they're buying with others.
This patent seems to make too much sense to be lost in the shuffle and I would expect all of it to come to an iPhone near you in the not so distant future. My guess is that this kissing cousin of iAds will be rolled out shortly after the appearance of iPhone OS 4.0. If and when it happens, it'll be really interesting to see how it will affect Ticketmaster, and all the ticket scalpers who seem to suck up every ticket to all popular events in less than five minutes after the box office opens.