opinion

Technology, Skepticism and Missed Opportunities

Q. Boyer

It seems insane to me now, given the central importance of mobile traffic and mobile content sales to Pink Visual’s bottom line, but I used to be an unrelenting mobile skeptic.

“Why on Earth would people want to watch porn on their phone?” I used to ask myself. “Didn’t we all get enough of postage stamp-size porn video in the early days of the Web?”

To successfully navigate the future, you have to stop thinking about these technologies from your own perspective and start “going with the flow.”

In fairness to myself, I had those thoughts in the pre-smartphone days, when the available mobile porn amounted to pictures and the occasional video, which was indeed very reminiscent of surfing the web back in the late 90s. I can’t let myself entirely off the hook, though; the truth is that I didn’t see the iPhone as a game changer until after it had started to change the game.

Fortunately for Pink Visual, our company woke up to the mobile sector’s smartphone revolution just in time to be among the early adopters, and the performance of our first mobile sites was sufficient to erase any skepticism we might have. We ended up committing to the mobile sector in a big way, and in retrospect, it was a move that saved Pink Visual; we probably would not have gone out of business if we’d failed to jump on the opportunity, but we’d have been hurting, and hurting badly.

Our company’s experience with mobile was a valuable lesson for me, one that I shouldn’t have needed, quite frankly. I already know from marketing porn created for niche markets that there’s zero correlation between my own tastes and the question of what sells, and that’s what my mobile skepticism was grounded in – my own preferences. Without realizing I was doing so, I was making the mistake of projecting my own preferences onto the market, and relying on assumption instead of analysis.

It’s a mistake that I’ve vowed to never make again – but it’s also one that I have caught myself making on a couple of occasions since learning my lesson courtesy of the mobile market.

For example, when Pink Visual started work on PinkVisualGames.com, our version of the virtual porn/gaming engine authored by Thrixxx(Thrixxx.com), my initial inclination was to think of its potential as being limited to that of “also ran” among our portfolio. I just didn’t see the appeal of the game, but then I reminded myself that I don’t have to “get it;” there just needs to be a market out there of people who do get it, who want it, and (most importantly) who are willing to pay for it.

As it stands now, launching PinkVisualGames was clearly a very good idea. Out of our entire product portfolio, it is by far the property that is showing the most revenue growth, month over month. Its users are engaged, and they don’t just play, they pay. Something about the game is resonating with these players, connecting with them on a level that porn simply can’t, perhaps. Whatever it is, the site’s growth is impressive, sustained ... and tremendously satisfying to our CFO, among others.

All of this was very much on my mind recently, as I sat on a panel at the Adult Entertainment Virtual Convention represented in the Utherverse by a hastily decorated Avatar that looked vaguely like the lead singer for a 1970s Southern Rock band. The topic of our discussion was “The Digital Age of Adult Entertainment: A Look at the Future,” for which I was joined by Greg Clayman from VideoSecrets, Douglas Richter from AWEmpire, ATKingdom CEO Kim Nielsen, attorney Greg Piccionelli and Utherverse’s own CEO, Brian Shuster.

As we mused about future technologies that could have a major impact on the adult entertainment industry, what struck me was how much of the industry is doing so little with the technologies that are already available to us. Many companies still haven’t established an effective presence in the mobile market; some are still serving video using codecs that the market is gradually abandoning; some haven’t changed their sites or content delivery platforms significantly in years, presenting cutting edge end users with an experience that feels something like walking out of a time machine and into the mid-1990s Internet.

My advice to those who resist adopting the newest industry-relevant consumer technologies available is this: To successfully navigate the future, you have to stop thinking about these technologies from your own perspective and start “going with the flow,” for lack of a better phrase.

If you are old enough to remember the time I’m referring to, consider this question: Back in the 1980s, when the focus of most audio equipment manufacturers was to create products with the goal of delivering the highest-quality sound possible, did you ever think an enormous, global market would develop around music files of substantially lower quality than what is available on a CD? Yet, that’s exactly what happened, and by quickly recognizing the trend and developing the iPod to take advantage of that trend, Apple began a renewed ascent as a company, one that ultimately led it to become the powerhouse it is today.

Technology trends develop quickly, sure, but not literally overnight. In addition to the other things that you might track closely as an adult entrepreneur – legal issues, the development of regulations that pertain to adult businesses, etc. – you owe it to yourself and to your company to keep a close eye on consumer technology trends.

After all, in a market that is as competitive as adult entertainment has become, the next opportunity you miss might be your last.

Q Boyer leads communications for Pink Visual, TopBucks and DMCA Force.

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