Passbook a hit with baseball fans

A Major League Baseball executive says the league has been “floored” by fans’ usage of Passbook, Apple’s new electronic ticketing system that debuted recently in iOS 6. Twelve percent of ticket buyers chose to receive e-tickets through the app during a recent two-week trial among four teams, The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch reported today, resulting in 1,500 Passbook deliveries.

While that kind of uptake is unquestionably impressive, it’s important to differentiate between mobile ticketing and mobile payments. Passbook users opted to have tickets delivered via mobile because it’s easy and convenient: They can use their phones not just to enter the ballpark but also to resell their tickets or send them to friends. It’s essentially an expansion of the kind of services that enable users to show a credit card to gain entry.

Mobile ticketing shows tremendous promise, as do things like mobile loyalty programs. But they’re not the same as mobile payments, which (obviously) require users to actually make purchases over the phone. Mobile ticketing is likely to pave the way for mobile payments — that’s what happened in Japan — because the two things can be so closely integrated. But they’re not at all the same thing.