According to The American Heritage Dictionary, one definition of the word ‘dinosaur’ is “One that is hopelessly outmoded or unwieldy.” As technology increases and brings profound changes to our world, redefining society in unexpected ways, can our business models remain flexible enough to survive?
While many of you will no doubt believe that you are evolutionarily isolated – apex predators at the top of your game, knowledgeably wielding the latest tools of science and technology in your continuing endeavor to profitably reach the farthest corners of the world with ‘porn on demand,’ you need to take a few minutes to look at the changes happening around you, and ask yourself, “Am I prepared?”
I’m not talking about Visa and Acacia or about any of the other fashionable frights currently vexing our industry; but about the major shakeups happening to our cousins in the ‘print’ side of the business – Guttenbergian throwbacks offering porn wrapped in paper, rather than pixels, and reaping the slow death of a marketplace that decidedly prefers the infinite variety and relative anonymity of online pornography over the comparatively tame, and content-limited, glossy glory of the past.
It was Screw Magazine’s Al Goldstein that said it; “We are an anachronism; we are dinosaurs; we are elephants going to the bone cemetery to die... The delivery system has changed, and we have to change with it if we want to survive.” Now after 35 years of publication, Screw is gone, killed by the Internet and the new market realities that it drives. Goldstein’s plan? To spend more time working on his Website. Perhaps you can teach an old dog (or dinosaur) new tricks…
And it’s not just Screw that has exited the marketplace. Penthouse has at least one foot in the grave, while countless smaller brands have already gone the way of the dodo. Into this reality, new entrants to the world of porn overwhelmingly choose the digital path; eschewing static print for dynamic interactivity.
Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler Magazine has been one of the most successful in profitably transferring his brand to the online world. According to Flynt, “I honestly think Guccione and Al Goldstein were not aware of what kind of an effect technology was going to have on publishing.”
Change is Inevitable
They should have though. The print side of the industry had a ‘warning shot’ in the late seventies and early eighties with the home video revolution which ushered in an era of high quality erotic movies in the privacy of the home in exchange for a reasonable rental fee, and a few awkward moments in line at the video store…
While most powerhouse porn publishers were relatively quick to capitalize on this new home video medium – as well as the emerging cable and satellite markets – they do not seem to have realized that ‘Internet Time’ moves on a different scale – and they’re now paying for their lack of foresight.
Sure, hindsight is 20/20, and we can all think of things that we would have done differently, if only we knew then what we know today, but the important point is the lesson itself: complacency in a timeless and overtly irreplaceable medium led to a dismissal of potential rivals. Rivals, which later proved to be their commercial demise – even though some consumers will always appreciate the joys of a trip to the men’s room, a copy of Swank in hand...
Operating within the global Internet arena – an infinitely more nebulous environment than the well established print tradition – we are perhaps more savvy to the speed at which existing paradigms can change; and are thus more observant to technological innovation – and more willing to embrace it when it comes. By doing so, perhaps we can avoid becoming dinosaurs ourselves.