Even more importantly, in studies published by Nielsen.com, an increasingly large percentage of the mobile devices sold are Smartphones capable of accessing the Internet. The race to dominate the quickly emerging mobile content market is heating up. Now, with competition brewing between technology giants, phone carrier companies and proprietary platforms, cracks are starting to appear in the barriers that have been holding back most adult providers from monetizing mobile customers more effectively.
The current leader in mobile application sales remains iTunes, which recently claimed having sold more than three billion items from its world famous App Store to an insular market of iPhone users. Until recently, most iPhone owners were buying software under the presumption that the Apple iTunes Store was the only place it could be purchased, and a rigorous set of rules established by Apple had essentially locked out all but a few attempts to provide adult themed products for consumers.
One of the first to successfully get an adult product listed in the App Store was ColdHardCash when they began marketing a Sunny Leone App in September of 2009. The App aimed at a 17+ audience, includes a warning message about mature content when a user attempts to download it and in compliance with Apple rules it also contains zero nudity. So, while the Sunny Leone App did signal the first time a porn star appeared on an iPhone, the app was only allowed to offer bikini niche modeling images with bonus packs of images available for 99 cents each.
"Sunny Leone's iPhone App was the first porn star app accepted into iTunes by Apple. Cold Hard Cash worked closely with Grindhouse Mobile to develop an app that was representative of who Sunny is and to also highlight some of the best features from her website like her photos, personal videos and blog," said Aimee Sweet of ColdHardCash.com. "So far the response to her app has been amazing and it allowed Sunny to reach out to a broader spectrum of fans through the iTunes network. I think it's definitely a valuable asset as far as marketing goes and I expect it to perform strongly in the future as well."
Playgirl followed up on that earlier success by officially releasing its own app for fans to purchase in a similar manner. However, again the apps being approved were forced to stay within Apple content standards, which specifically preclude the display of nudity whatsoever. While it has always been true that an iPhone user could use their browser to find hardcore porn, having it appear as a native app on the phone and integrating it with other aspects of the iPhone platform like GPS, vibration and gyroscope tilting seemed to make iTunes approval a necessary step toward reaching the full potential of the platform.
"Most of the companies in the porn business seem interested in moving their existing content to mobile devices so that someone with an iPhone can watch porn, but the real money will be made by the companies that take advantage of the total mobile experience," said Jay of ObjectCube.com. "These days smart phones provide much more than video streaming; they include GPS that can be utilized by location-aware apps for dating, push notification for mobile community instant messaging and a lot of other technological features that will allow users to explore adult content in ways desktop computers were never capable of providing."
Jay also explained that "porn companies need to look at developing apps that can take advantage of all these functions and offer content that monetizes the immediacy, proximity and tactile interface smart phones provide. Especially in light of the versatile billing methods available through cellular devices — Objectcube.com is already developing several products to accomplish these goals with industry leaders and looks forward to a very bright mobile future."
Strangely enough, Google is the company that may have created a hole in the Apple castle walls large enough for adult companies to follow through. While some components of Google have been readily accepted by Apple on their iPhone platform (Google search and Gmail are preinstalled options for iPhone owners), the attempts by Google to offer its Google Voice Application on the iPhone were rejected by Apple in July of 2009. The rejection lead to an FCC investigation in which Apple claimed their unilateral decision was reasonable because Google Voice essentially duplicates core phone functionality of the iPhone. The squabble over who was right or wrong turns out to be less important than the actions Google has taken to circumvent Apple's stranglehold on app sales to iPhone customers without being officially listed in the iTunes store.
Google has created a webpage accessible directly via the iPhone, Palm Pre or any other mobile browser, which allows users to make calls using their Google Voice accounts. Once a user has found the web page, they can add the page to their home screen and it appears just like any other store-bought app would; with a one-click direct connection icon from the iPhone to Google Voice — no iTunes store purchase necessary. At this point, the user experience of launching a web application feels as native to the device as launching an app purchased from the proprietary store. The Google Voice app then utilizes HTML5 to integrate itself into the other functionality of the phone, including switching to normal iPhone calling functions for dialing and making calls.
There are some minor inconveniences where for example you need to import your contact lists over again, but the lesson to be learned is that iPhone users with HTML5 are similar to desktop users who have moved increasingly toward cloud computing. Once consumers fully understand that they can use or buy any item online with their browser and are free to add apps that work as well or better than those listed in the iTunes App Store, the ability of Apple to keep its captive audience quickly dissipates — and so do most of its rules about 'acceptable' content.
The process of developing applications for the iPhone is a notoriously slow and expensive process rife with rigid developer license requirements, hardware necessities and the always present danger that the app will be rejected unilaterally upon submission with little or no meaningful explanation from Apple. However, by using HTML5 a developer can create a fully integrated app for the iPhone and sell it online without ever having it sanctioned by the folks at Apple.
That opens up the possibility of adult dating apps with GPS functionality and full frontal nudity, tactile porn games that utilize the tilt and gesture interface of the iPhone for interactive content, or a variety of other innovative new products.
"VideosZ fans have requested that we make the site available through a mobile-friendly interface as well," Clement of VideosZ said. "What we have seen is not really a migration to mobile, more of a desire by our customers for flexible platforms that let them enjoy all 6,000+ of our DVDs using whichever device or computer they happen to have handy at the moment. Now with the recent moves by Google to use HTML5 as a work-around for iPhone users to get access without restrictions from Apple, we are already looking into the potential of an HTML5 friendly version of VideosZ. It's an exciting time for multi-platform content providers, that much is definitely true."