Porn Production Losing Ground on Technology

It's a dirty little secret, but some say the adult entertainment industry drives mainstream adoption of the latest technologies.

The VHS format, video chatting and the digital delivery of content, some industry analysts said, were given that extra little nudge by the purveyors of sex and all its accessories.

But for all the talk, however hushed, of this relationship, cold hard evidence is hard to come by.

Still, each January, when the two industries hold simultaneous conventions in Las Vegas, even sharing some of the same space, it's nearly impossible to not look at one in light of the other.

As the buttoned-up, data-driven, often-bespectacled techies get ready to leave the Consumer Electronics Show, the leggy, corseted porn stars and their endless lines of fans kick the Adult Entertainment Expo into high gear.

Those fans of fantasy may not care too much about the winner of the Last Gadget Standing competition at the Consumer Electronics Show when the finalists of the Best Booty contest are standing on the main stage.

But rest assured that many of the men and women who create the content that porn fans digest are paying close attention to the show down the hall.

And, as the pace of technological development and media convergence picks up, porn production companies find that although the "most reliable bull market in the world" is in some ways living up to its reputation, new media is challenging long-standing business models and time-tested rules of engagement.

"A lot of the companies have been pretty optimistic," said Stephen Yagielowicz, a senior editor at Xbiz.com, a porn industry news site. "The reality is that a lot of business is hurting. All these business models are crumbling."

He said that the industry was already rocking on its heels from convergence and problems related to new media, such as piracy, free content and popular social networks like Facebook and MySpace. The recession only added one more challenge to an already mounting heap.

Glut of Free Porn

While the Internet did enable a boom in the industry, it has also created a glut of free content that is now slowly eating away at it.

"It's hard to make a dollar from something people can get for free," he said.

But there are opportunities in the industry. And, in fact, he said, taking a Darwinian stance, the challenges will ultimately lead to a leaner but better industry.

Video chats, which he credits the adult industry with mainstreaming, he said, are always going to have value because they foster an emotional connection.

Artificial chat bots, with voices that very closely resemble those of real humans, also present opportunities for the same reason.

At the end of the day, the "Rolls Royces" of the industry, with high-quality and diversified products, will be the ones that endure.

Samantha Lewis, co-owner of Digital Playground, an adult entertainment company that specializes in high-quality, couples' films, said that her company is absolutely stable.

"We've never been so strong in this economy," she said. "There's a lot of companies that are struggling but our quality is so high-end and we do things that are not available with other companies."

One of the first to use interactive CD-ROMs in the 1990s, her company, Lewis said, tries its best to stay on the cutting edge of technology.

"DVD sales are going down without a doubt," she said. "But we strengthen on the Internet side. It's evened out."

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