While the news that film information service Moviefone is shutting down its telephone line may not surprise, it does neatly sum up a transition that has been gathering pace for more than a decade. We have our smartphones, we have our tablets and laptops, and we can access almost any information with just a few taps. Waiting for an automated listings voice to speak our desired selection is simply no longer an option.

Moviefone Website

In refocusing its effort on digital devices, Moviefone summed up the shift to new media in one statement:

“The 777-FILM numbers will no longer be in service in the near future. To buy tickets and for all of your showtime information please download the free Moviefone app on your smartphone or iPad.”

Even the focus on the app is telling.

It signals that the future is largely based on mobile devices, particularly when it comes to local search and business. Although the desktop website will clearly play a significant role for the foreseeable future, Moviefone understands that technology is driving behavior as the shift to digital enters its later stages. The vexing question of app vs. website or both is still being battled over, but it isn’t impossible to envisage the current ecosystem of full websites one day suffering a similar fate to Moviefone’s telephone service.

This microcosm of the  industry further emphasizes the focus on the evolution of entertainment, that we examined in the wake of the proposed purchase of TWC by Comcast. The two major elements of this environment will be the content that consumers demand and the channels – or ‘pipes’ – through which it flows.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Kindle Fire w/ “Mayday” button | Credit: TipsForComputers.com

One final consideration is just where telephone service will fit into this wider information shift.

Many forms of information can be obtained online, but there’s an argument to be made that once the masses expect to be served online then customer service could decline, as it did with off-shore call centers beginning in the late 90s.

Speaking to a real person could quite easily become a key service differentiator at that point, perhaps seeing investment flow back into telephone, or video call help lines. Amazon’s “Mayday” button has been promoted heavily over the recent holiday period, lending credence to that idea and perhaps signaling the next coming shift in service.

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