The Atlantic: Micropayments Won't Work for Porn

Bob Johnson

WASHINGTON — Reacting to ICM Registry CEO Stuart Lawley’s plan in a Bloomberg Businessweek article that would provide iTunes-like porn clips for 99 cents as a way to save the beleaguered adult industry from the blight of free porn, The Atlantic reported that adopting these methods may not be a panacea.

Drawing a comparison to the music business and big media companies that have benfitted some from charging for smaller bites of content, the Atlantic said however that porn is a different animal altogether.

“Comparing your business plan to Apple is pretty standard corporate trope these days, but in the case of porn, the iTunes analogy is hopelessly inapt. Here's the problem: Pornography is mostly a commodity product. Music is not."

The article went on to explain, "People have favorite bands and expect a certain level of production value in their music. Bruce Springsteen devotees aren't just as happy listening to Bob Seger or an a cappella rendition of ‘Born In the USA.’ It's at least a little rarer to have favorite porn stars. And the audiences aren't demonstrably sensitive to production values. Worse yet, the tools for do-it-yourself filming are improving every time Apple upgrades the iPhone's video camera."

Getting people to pay for porn at all is a tough proposition, the magazine stated, citing that even mainstream media companies are having a hard time with the micropayment model.

Because there’s so much free porn, the story expounded, users would rather seek out the free stuff rather than even pay a small amount.

“What holds for journalism in this case holds for sex. In both cases, the competition is so broad that customers are likely to go elsewhere rather than pay. There are, obviously, exceptions in the case of newspapers — the Wall Street Journal has a profitable paywall, and the New York Times appears to be having some early success with its own. But that might be cold comfort for the adult entertainment world,” the article said.

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