A case in point is Chatroulette.com, an ostensibly mainstream webcam portal that is by all accounts being overrun by dudes that can't keep it in their pants — and feel a need to show the world, live via the Internet — and not to make a buck, but "just because…"
And a lot of viewers are watching and the buzz is building…
They enjoy the reality — not the fake porn-world "reality" where pizza boys don't burn themselves on hot cheese and the hottest chick in the world will hop right into the back of a derelict van full of drooling young perverts with a rented camcorder.
Rather, Chatroulette pairs random strangers for webcam encounters, which perhaps unsurprisingly often involve a penis — despite the site's prohibitions on such displays. Sure, there's a lot more going on, but this is the kind of "exposure" that draws in surfers looking for this material and can rapidly evolve the face of a community — and even become "the next big thing" in porn — whether it wants to be or not. (This of course is a perspective that I imagine Steve Jobs can relate to as he tries to keep porn out of iTunes).
This is a side story in itself about how true user communities, like corporations that behold to stockholders, are often driven by the bottom up, rather than from the top down — with sometimes surprising results which can shift the character of a brand overnight. Such as would happen if Jobs said "have at it" and welcomed adult with open arms — what do you think the APP Store would look like in a year or two? But I digress...
Perhaps most interesting of all is that Chatroulette really is the brainchild of a Russian teenager who continues to operate the site out of his childhood bedroom in his parent's Moscow home. Not the product of some belabored boardroom antics, Chatroulette really is simply "what's cool" from a young, cosmopolitan perspective that reflects today's youth culture.
Far more heavily trafficked, but obviously not fulfilling all of its audience's needs, are Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and myriad other social networks that also offer real world reality — where any Tom, Dick, Harry or Jane can become a star for the night —all of which provides ample fodder for adult consumers to explore.
Did I mention the "free" part? No piracy needed here — these folks are happily churning it out as fast as they can, and doing so with often surprising quality. And today's consumers are noticing — much to the detriment of traditional online adult entertainment websites that have failed to evolve to meet current demand.
The trick at this point is to take a new or existing project and transform it into a non-"porn" arena in which porn is still the product. Sex sells, they say, and that statement is true and always will be, regardless of whether or not porn will always sell — knowing the difference and being able to do something about it, will separate those next generation players who will develop new and innovative adult entertainment offers. Remember, the market has changed and for a whole variety of reasons, including some consumers being afraid to visit "porn sites" due to previous bad experiences, media sensationalism or the word-of-mouth of friends — but that doesn't mean they do not want to be titillated or won't pay for the privilege — just lead them to a comfortable source.