USA Today, 11/28/06 - Like the Internet before it, it looks like mobile's
content explosion could be set off by porn.
Adult content on mobile devices will be worth $3.3 billion by 2011, up from $1.4 billion this year, according to industry analysts Juniper Research.
Europe is the biggest spender on porn, due to both its appetite for smut and the relatively high-priced nature of adult content. The Asia-Pacific region follows in second place.
The development of the adult content market will also evolve in parallel with mobile telephony technology, Jupiter predicted. Currently, most adult content is text-based. As 3G wireless, which provides more capacity for multimedia services, reaches maturity, porn will switch to video delivery, Jupiter said. More than 70 per cent of revenue will be derived from that medium by 2011, according to the report.
"Erotic adult entertainment is big business — sex sells! What's more, the underlying drivers mean that the demand is pretty constant," the report's authors noted.
However, highly dedicated smut watchers are unlikely to be getting their content on their mobiles, Juniper said. Rather, the typical mobile porn consumer is likely to be a "lad down the pub" trying to impress his mates.
Vivid Sees Money in Mobile Porn
San Jose Mercury News, 2/13/06 - Few industries have a better track record for using technology to reach consumers than the one that employs Steven Hirsch.
Through the Internet, DVDs and even VCRs, Hirsch and his brethren were there first, profitably churning out products. Now his industry, pornography, is targeting the next technological frontier: the mobile phone.
"There is a lot of business to be done," said Hirsch, the co-founder of adult filmmaker Vivid Entertainment.
Hirsch plans later this year to launch a new mobile product he expects will sell particularly well: VividNow, which offers live sex chats with porn stars, their images beamed onto a phone's video screen.
The mobile adult video market is small now. But already, many major phone companies in Europe are selling sexual content. It would seem to be a natural seller in the United States, too, except for one major difference: The United States is more conservative culturally, with stronger lobbies against pornography and indecency.
And so there is a quiet battle being played out between pornographers and opponents, with U.S. wireless carriers positioned in the middle between a potentially lucrative business and the risk to their image by abetting in the distribution of adult content.
It's an even trickier situation than the one facing major cable television companies that offer sex channels because porn-on-the-go brings up the specter of inadvertent public exposure to sexual videos -- such as if someone chooses to watch an inappropriate clip on a bus.
It is also potentially much easier for children to access than on a personal computer precisely because phones are so portable, said Charmaine Yoest, a vice president at the Family Research Council, which promotes what it calls traditional family and Judeo-Christian values.
"We're able to monitor what (children) do on computers in our houses," she said.
A historian at Texas A&M University, Jonathan Coopersmith, said that if not for its subject matter, the porn business would be praised for quickly developing and diffusing technical know-how.
Consumers of pornography tend to be early adopters of new technology, and they've helped popularize videocassette recorders, DVD players, the camcorder and, of course, the Internet, he said. On the Internet, in particular, adult sites have been leaders in providing state-of-the-art features.
The Internet has become a major distribution channel for California-based Vivid, which makes about 70 movies per year.
Five years ago, 90 percent of Vivid's content was distributed through DVDs. Now, less than 40 percent travels that route, while 30 percent is sold online. Cable and satellite television is also a major distribution channel.
Phones are a relatively small piece of business, but Vivid's Hirsch sees "tremendous growth" in mobile.
While wireless carriers aren't necessary to sell pornography on the phone, experts said they have the power to give it a boost.
"The evidence is that content only becomes mainstream when it is easy to access and easy to bill," said Anil Malhotra, co-founder of Bango, a London-based firm that processes payments made via mobile phones.
CTIA-The Wireless Association, the U.S. wireless industry trade group, recently adopted guidelines to keep minors from accessing unsuitable content. U.K. carriers adopted such guidelines before actually offering adult content.
But U.S. carriers have given no indication they will follow suit. "We do not offer pornographic content nor do we plan to offer pornographic or obscene content," said Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Cingular Wireless, the nation's biggest wireless carrier.
Some anti-porn groups are watching the carriers closely.
"We have (mobile porn) very much on our radar," said Yoest of the Family Research Council. "We are appealing to carriers and asking them to align themselves with parents or pornographers. They have a choice to make."
Pornographers have already come to dominate the fixed Internet, Yoest said.
"They'll move quickly to capture any market they can."
Mobile Adult Content Congress
Reuters, 1/27/06 - Cell-phone pornography is a fast-growing business that analysts expect will generate about $2 billion in global revenue by 2009.
And porn-on-the-go was the focus of a two-day Mobile Adult Content Congress that wrapped up in Miami on Thursday amid expectations, according to at least some participants, that it will soon catch on in the United States.
Consumers already spend tens of millions of dollars a year on cell-phone-based adult content in Europe where companies such as mobile-phone giant Vodafone Group Plc -- or "Vodafilth" as it was dubbed by one British newspaper -- are among the distributors.
Leading American cellular carriers have been reluctant to jump onto the bandwagon, however, fearing a backlash from the conservatives and the religious right if they provide U.S. consumers easy access to hand-held X-rated theater.
The Miami conference, aimed at allaying some of those concerns, was sponsored by Waat Media, a California-based company that represents some of the leading so-called late-night U.S. entertainment brands.
Rather than focusing on steamy content or images, such as video footage featuring conference attendee Ron Jeremy -- a porn star who has licensed his name to RJ Mobile -- industry officials focused here on issues such as content rating and filtering devices or age verification mechanisms, meant to prevent underage consumers from buying adult content.
It was all a bit staid and very business-like, but one speaker, an executive identified as James Walz of West Management, did seem to get worked up as he talked about features like "personalized strip teases" and unbridled U.S. market potential.
"There's a huge consumer demand following up on the immense success of the Internet," Walz said. "It's a sizzling, serious business."
U.S. sales of erotica or porn distributed via cell phones were estimated at no more than about $30 million last year.
But Adi McAbian, Waat Media's managing director, told Reuters that U.S. revenues could soon hit about $500 million per year, once the right technology, and services such as "robust age verification," are in place.
One key to future growth, apart from an avoidance of excessive regulatory controls, will be the ability U.S. consumers should have to get billed for adult content directly by their cell-phone providers, McAbian said.
"There's no doubt it's a huge market forthcoming. Long-range it's a huge market," he said.
On a global basis, Juniper Research, which specializes in research on the telecoms industry, says sales of adult mobile services are seen tripling between 2004 and 2009 to $2.1 billion.
Tina Southall, director of content standards at Vodafone, told Reuters adult offerings were a key part of the company's multimedia strategy across Europe.
But what sells in Austria or Hungary, which she described as Europe's "most explicit markets," or even in Ireland, Britain and Sweden, which she ranked as Europe's "most conservative" venues, may not play in Peoria, Illinois.
Jeffrey Nelson of Verizon Wireless, the U.S. cell-phone service that Verizon Communications Inc. shares with Vodafone, said the company had absolutely no plans to offer adult content on its mobile phones.
"As my grandmother would have said, 'fat chance,'" Nelson said.
"I hear all the same things you do about analysts saying this is a big boom," he said. "We don't think that our customer base wants it."
US Porn Business Ready for Mobile Phone Porn
The Globe and Mail, 9/15/05 - Obscene phone calls are about to become a growth market.
The mobile phone is the next frontier for the multibillion-dollar pornography industry. It's already making inroads, selling everything from screaming "O" ring tones to explicit images.
So far, most of the business is in Europe, which has seen wide adoption of 3G mobile technologies that offer faster downloads, and which generally has a liberal attitude toward sexual content. But as North America embraces faster networks, it's just a matter of time before cellphone porn hits here in a big way, says Randy Jorgensen, founder and president of Adults Only Video.
His Richmond Hill, Ont.-based company, a distributor of adult-content videos, operates a chain of adult video stores and three sexually explicit digital TV channels. He once ran 91 AOV stores, but has liquidated all but 10 to focus on TV and gear up for mobile adult content.
"It's certainly coming, and we'll be there," Mr. Jorgensen said.
"The storefront retail market is dead and dying, as content is available by digital streaming," he adds. "We're in talks with carriers, and we have a library of material ready."
Driving the content to mobile, as always, is money -- big money. Juniper Research suggests the cellphone sex market globally was worth about $500-million (U.S.) in 2004, and forecasts it will grow to about $2-billion by 2009.
"Within the past couple of years, the MMS market (multimedia service -- images and video over mobile phones) has expanded beyond all recognition," writes the report's author, Dr. Windsor Holden, a telecommunications analyst. "Many provide 'browse and buy' galleries or send daily recurring images, or, like voooyeur.com, ape wired services to allow amateur exhibitionists to upload their homemade content."
Jupiter's Julie Ask said market data on downloadable adult content is thin, but in general, "it appeals to young males, with 18 per cent of male respondents aged 18 to 34 saying they'd be interested in viewing adult videos on their mobile."
The availability of sex-related downloadable content is growing, too, from images to racy podcasts.
Las Vegas-based Pocket Joy, for example, is selling a $10-a-month 3G subscription service that allows customers to download jokes, adult-video-industry news and, of course, pornographic imagery.
"Research indicates subscribers to porn sites subscribe to several sites rather than just one site," the company says. "The core porn-browser is an addicted repeat user and will view content from multiple providers according to taste and need for variety."
Pocket Joy is not alone in the marketplace. Vivid Entertainment Group of Van Nuys, Calif., one of the world's largest producers of adult content, has signed technology deals to provide visual content. Barcelona-based Private Media Group Inc. is flashing porn to 220 million European mobile customers. U.S. based Xobile, which sells porn downloads, enables users to scan an adult DVD movie's bar code with their mobile's camera and get a preview sent to their phone.
But don't get your hopes up if porn-on-the-go is your thing. Mr. Jorgensen says there are hurdles to overcome. The adult-content-to-mobile market for providers in Canada will be tamer and conservative to begin with, he said. Currently the biggest users of mobile-phone content, other than voice-related services, are teens under 18, which creates legal headaches.
What he calls "premium" adult content will be aimed at the 19- to 40-year-old user group, but at the moment they're not big spenders when it comes to mobile services. That could change as more services arrive catering to this demographic, he added, adding that marketing studies suggest European subscribers spend an average of about $35 a year on downloadable content, and adult-oriented material is a modest portion of that amount, even if it's a one-time novelty purchase.
"I think adult content will have an impact on mobile phone use and services," he said.
And while Canadians will be able to download voice greetings from porn starlets, adult movie trailers, wallpaper, and explicit still and video images, carriers will likely still play gatekeeper, screening content providers -- and ultimately their content -- at least initially.
"There aren't enough of these phones in the market now capable of downloading [and displaying] this content," Mr. Jorgensen said. "It's going to take until 2007 before it happens. And for the first few years carriers will be screening and restricting access to their portals, because they don't want to turn it into the World Wide Web."
Mr. Jorgensen acknowledges customers can browse sites located anywhere in the world, but notes that it's expensive. "If the carriers offer the content through their portal, it's a better value proposition, because they can offer . . . content at a better price," he said.
For their own part, carriers such as Bell Canada of Montreal and Telus Corp. of Vancouver say officially that they aren't offering adult material for mobile, and have no plans to do so. But, as Heather Armstrong, a spokeswoman for Toronto-based Rogers Wireless Communications Inc. noted, "We don't restrict surfing the Internet on mobiles or as an ISP [Internet Service Provider] within legal boundaries. Customers are free to download anything to their mobiles."
As a wireless carrier source who asked not to be named suggests: "Given what's happening in Europe and Asia, it's probably something that will happen here. It's a competitive business. There are some hurdles, such as ensuring the user is over 18, but those will be worked out."
And while both Rogers and Bell recently launched TV-to-mobile content services for about $25 (Canadian) a month, carriers are still fighting a Beta-versus-VHS-type battle as to which video format will prevail -- and porn might sway the balance of power.
On its website, Pocket Joy adds that while video streaming appears to be the way of the future, size will probably matter - at least when it comes to screens. It says the small screens on most of today's cellphones will likely have to grow at least to Blackberry- and Treo-size over the next couple of years before the demand for mobile downloadable content starts to grow exponentially, as it did for desktop PC users.
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