Special Focus: Adult Technology

Alex Henderson

Trends in Live Cam Streaming

The adult Internet has become increasingly competitive in recent years, but one area of online adult entertainment that continues to perform well is live webcam sites. While digital piracy has been an ongoing problem for adult membership sites specializing in downloadable content, that isn’t a problem for cam sites. And the fact that cam sites have a personal quality certainly hasn’t hurt their popularity.

XBIZ takes a look at a number of current and emerging trends in adult digital media technology.

A spokesperson for MyFreeCams.com, one of the top adult cam sites, said that important cam trends include ever-increasing interactivity (including chat rooms where models communicate with patrons) and a need to appeal to as many technological platforms as possible. “The trend we are noticing is that both customers and performers are expecting a greater level of personal attention and support,” explained a spokesperson for MyFreeCams.com. “That is why MyFreeCams.com is dedicated to continuing to provide first-class service so that we remain the leader in our industry.”

Another important trend in live cam streaming has been diversification. There are many cam sites that cater to specific tastes, niches and interests, including cam sites that specialize in Latina, African-American or Asian models (MyFreeCams.com has a section devoted to Asian models exclusively), gay and lesbian cam sites and BDSM-oriented cam sites such as StreamingBDSM.com and Kink.com’s KinkLive.com. BDSM cam sites can cater to very esoteric sub-niches; for example, there are cam sites that focus exclusively on live spanking or live flogging. Clearly, those sites aren’t trying to be all things to all people; they target a select part of the cam audience, determine what patrons want, and market themselves accordingly.

The adult Internet is constantly evolving, but if 2011 has been any indication, cam sites continue to be a successful part of online erotica.

Technologies in E-billing

The Internet has made it much easier to obtain adult entertainment, but with that ease has come the question: how are online consumers going to pay for it? Further complicating matters is the fact that online consumers have different payment preferences in different parts of the world (ranging from credit cards to direct debiting to mobile payments). And as the adult industry continues to evolve, so will technological trends in e-billing.

Joseph Devlin III, chief marketing officer for Webbilling.com BV, said that one important technological trend to watch out for in e-billing will be “major advances in information gathering technology as it specifically relates to combating online fraud.” According to Devlin, the adult industry can look forward to a greater emphasis on technologies that make it easier to monitor online behavior, monitor the types of devices used to access adult sites, and analyze user habits. Devlin added that because credit card penetration is unlikely to increase in much of Europe, there will also be a greater emphasis on technologies that facilitate direct debiting and bank-based payment solutions in the EU.

With more and more consumers accessing erotica on mobile devices (especially in Europe), it stands to reason that many of them will want to pay for that erotica using mobile devices — and London-based Daniela Ganick, senior account manager for iTellibill, predicted that mobile billing technology will continue to grow and expand. Ganick noted: “In general, mobile is growing fast and is a lot more accessible worldwide than payments through credit cards. Paying by mobile is quick, easy and secure and, especially, anonymous, as the user does not have to enter any personal or payment details — which is always important when it comes to adult sites.”

Is Flash Video Fading?

Flash video has been embraced by a long list of major websites. Wellknown mainstream sites such as YouTube, Yahoo Video and Reuters have embraced Flash, and when one reads the video submission standards outlined by BBC Online, a preference for Flash is clearly expressed. But with technology, change is inevitable — especially in the adult entertainment industry, where change often comes in a hurry. And it remains to be seen what the future holds for Flash on adult websites.

It is no secret that the adult industry has an abundance of Apple devotees; many people who work at adult companies are enthusiastic users of Apple products, including mobile/wireless devices like the iPad, the iPhone and the iPod. For a long time, Flash Video was incompatible with iOS (Apple’s mobile operating system). But with the recent release of Adobe’s Flash Media Server 4.5 software, Flash content can now be viewed on iPads, iPhones and iPods.

Mobile/wireless erotica has been a major growth area for the adult industry. So-called “cell-phone porn” has been especially popular in Europe, and quite a few adult webmasters have predicted that more and more erotica will be viewed on mobile devices in the future.

Webmaster Colin Rowntree, who founded the BDSM oriented membership site Wasteland.com back in 1995, said: “Where I see this going in the near future is the acceleration of companies moving all web and mobile publishing into HTML5 with ‘device friendly’ video formats which cover the greatest variety of mobile, tablets and other devices. Hello MP4, goodbye WMV and Flash? Fingers crossed for that development.”

Adult-specific Software Solutions

The adult entertainment industry has a long history of helping to make mainstream software programs successful. But the adult industry also has a history of developing its own adult-specific software solutions — some of them designed for people who work in the industry, some of them designed for consumers of adult entertainment who don’t necessarily work in the industry.

Operated by the website development firm Envisionext Inc., AdultCentro is a popular content leasing platform that enables webmasters to build their own adult membership sites using the innovative AdultCentro Publisher. AdultCentro has a huge and diverse library of adult content for webmasters to choose from, and Publisher allows webmasters to lease that content for their sites. AdultCentro recently unveiled AdultCentro Market, which it describes as a “content rights marketplace in the adult audiovisual content licensing market.”

While Envisionnext Inc.’s AdultCentro products are aimed at serious adult industry professionals, other companies have developed software solutions for the adult consumer. HeatSeek, for example, is an adult-oriented software program that was designed to help Internet users search for and download erotic content. The Flashfriendly Web browser/media player has been compatible with three versions of Windows (Windows Vista, Windows XP and Windows 7).

Mansion Productions is a company that has specialized in software applications for people in the adult industry. Its solutions have included VIST (a content management program), MAS (an automation program that helps webmasters manage their sites) and MPA3 (which is affiliate program software).

From industry-oriented software to consumer-oriented software, adult-specific software continues to be a useful part of the world of erotic entertainment.

Trends in Streaming, Delivery

Technology has evolved throughout history, but in the digital age, it is evolving more rapidly than ever—and that includes the methods of video streaming/delivery. In 2011, digital adult content is being viewed on everything from Mac and Windows-based desktop computers and laptops to a variety of mobile/wireless devices. And from a streaming/delivery standpoint, the challenge that adult websites face is getting their content to as many different platforms as possible.

“The predominant trend I am seeing in content streaming and delivery continues to be vertical platforms within the same program/website,” explained Colin Rowntree, founder of the popular BDSM membership site Wasteland.com. “Whereas in the past few years, companies ran totally separate traditional desktop subscription sites, VOD, and a sprinkling of mobile, tablet and other device sites, the current trend, for many good reasons, is to bring all platform delivery under one ‘roof’ and offer customers and surfers the ability to see the entire library on any device any time they like. This also creates a whole new set of potentially confusing upsell and cross-sell possibilities, but those bridges are being crossed as we progress into this new model.”

Allison Vivas, president/CEO of Pink Visual and TopBucks.com, observed: “We have definitely seen a trend for the demand for high quality video streamed to multiple devices, from mobile to TVs. This trend stems from the overall capacity of devices, including mobile, to handle quality playback. In the future, we anticipate additional wireless streaming, like Air-Play, to become increasingly popular. On the back end of things, with Google's adoption of VP8 and Android pushing out support for it in Gingerbread, we anticipate seeing a rise in streaming using this codec.”

A Look at Mobile Solutions

In 2011, mobile/wireless devices are much more than portable telephones; they are also used for everything from reading e-mail to checking soccer scores to accessing adult entertainment. And as the adult mobile market continues to grow, a variety of adult-specific solutions and programs are catering to that expanding market.

One of the successful adult-specific mobile solutions is Adult App Mart, an application that is specifically designed for viewing adult content on Android devices. Presently, Adult App Mart doesn’t support non-Android mobile devices such as the BlackBerry or Apple’s iPhone, but the company has said that it may expand the software to support non-Android devices in the future.

MiKandi, which bills itself as “the leading mobile adult application marketplace worldwide,” has an entire catalogue of adult mobile applications (both free and paid). The Seattle based company also offers services for creating, developing and publishing adult mobile apps. So far, MiKandi has only been available for Android devices, but they plan to support other platforms in the future.

Based in London, Adult Mobile Solutions (AMS) is a British company that specializes in mobile solutions for the adult entertainment industry — and the company’s products have included wapsites (mobile websites), customized branding solutions and content management tools. AMS’ solutions are designed to increase adult webmasters’ visibility in the mobile space and get their content to consumers who like to view erotic content on their mobile devices.

SexGoesMobile.com is another company specializing in adult mobile solutions. Its products have included mobile webcam chat services, a mobile targeting script and banners for mobile sites as well as mobile billing in 51 different countries.

More and more erotica is being viewed on mobile devices. And as the mobile erotica market continues its growth, so will the need for adult-specific mobile solutions.