Sept. 17, 2007 -- The tech-savvy among us can already watch news clips, music videos and sports highlights on our cell phones. Now, the adult entertainment industry is trying to make sure that you'll be able to watch porn on your hand-held devices as well.
It's not the first time the porn industry has been at the forefront of technology. Developments in VHS, DVD and the Internet were led by some of the biggest adult entertainment companies looking for the cheapest possible way to distribute their often times low-budget films to the widest audience.
Apparently, that strategy has worked. At Vivid Entertainment in Hollywood, Calif., one of the industry's biggest companies, VHS and DVD sales once brought in the majority of profits. Today, the company says that the Internet and video-on-demand, both in hotel rooms and on Pay-Per-View, bring in a major chunk of the company's revenue.
Some of the porn industry's movers and shakers are looking toward the future again, and they have their eyes on your cell phone.
Coming to America?
The concept of watching porn on phones has already taken off in parts of Europe, where adult moviemakers have been marketing the product for years. But it has yet to catch on in the United States.
"I think that's a business that hasn't yet happened in the U.S., but I think ultimately will," Vivid Entertainment CEO Steve Hirsch said. "People like to download a clip and send it to a friend and check out this girl and check out this scene."
Unlike what is offered in Europe, U.S. porn executives are not planning to market full-length videos, but instead short clips. They believe that Americans — mainly men — will be more comfortable sending each other short sex scenes and videos of girls stripping than they would watching full-length, hard-core videos on their morning commutes.
"We don't know how that's going to play out, and the next few years are going to tell the story," Hirsch said.
On the Northridge, Calif., set of the adult film "Busting the Babysitter" porn actress Kayden Kross said she thinks there are clear benefits to offering porn on cell phones.
"I think any type of hand-held technology is eventually going to have porn access," said Kross, who began appearing in adult films less than a year ago and says she is working on her psychology degree from Sacramento State University.
"We check our e-mail from our cell phone, we navigate from our cell phones. Cell phones are becoming a hand-held computer, so it's natural that it's going to go toward porn," Kross said. "Who knows where you're going to use it or if you're even going to use it. The point is you have access and the ability to do what you want with it."
Keeping Kids Away From Porn Phones
One major roadblock is child access. Some critics point out that with the Internet, DVDs and pay channels, porn is already available in too many places, even to children.
Adult entertainment industry executives say they can't offer their products on cell phones until they and cell phone providers find a way to stop children from accessing the porn.
"The big operators — Verizon and AT&T — are not comfortable enough with the age verification part of the business yet," Hirsch said.
In a roundabout way, the adult industry may be helping all media companies by transforming the way video will be offered in a mobile environment in the future. Right now, much of the mainstream, non-adult-oriented material is available only in short clip for cell phones, and it's often a cumbersome process to access the material.
Adult entertainment companies are working to make the process faster and cheaper and give the content a better viewing quality.
Vivid and other mega-porn houses have plans beyond cell phone video, such as developing interactive video-on-demand where users might one day be able to tell an actress what clothing to take off and what to do on screen.
But for now, the industry is focused on how to offer content to mobile users.