Playboy Announces Mobile Content Offers for 2005

Jeff Berg
NEW YORK — Making its first foray into the volatile U.S. mobile market, Playboy Enterprises Inc. announced Thursday that it has entered into a content distribution agreement with content developer Dwango Wireless to provide Playboy-branded offerings for mobile phone users.

“Give the extraordinary success we’ve had with our wireless offerings around the world, we felt the time was right to expand our wireless content to the millions of U.S. subscribers,” said Randy Nicolau, president of distribution for the Playboy Entertainment Group, in a statement issued today.

Under the new agreement, Dwango, who has previously developed mobile content for ESPN, X Games and Rolling Stone, will create games, images, video clips, voice clips and ringtones for Playboy fans.

“Playboy enthusiasts will soon have the ability to select from a diverse library of content that fits their unique interests,” said Alexander Conrad, president and COO of Dwango Wireless.

Playboy content will be available on-demand in early 2005.

A recent study by industry watchdog firm the Yankee Group forecasted a positive outlook for the adult mobile market, suggesting that it would quite possibly grow to a $90 million industry by 2008, mostly due to effective underage content blocking and a streamlined billing process.

According to the study, as much as 50 percent of consumers would prefer to charge their phone bill for porn instead of using a credit card.

However, while mobile adult content has met with great aplomb in Europe and Asia, analysts are unsure of whether the U.S. market will provide the same growth.

“It’s probably too early to tell how this will play,” entertainment industry analyst Dennis McAlpine of McAlpine Associates told Crain’s Chicago Business. “There isn’t a big market for it yet, but it says that Playboy wants to be there when the demand comes.”

XBiz Awards nominee AEBN also confirmed its interest in the mobile market earlier this week, revealing that the video-on-demand pioneer has been working for months on a project they plan to unveil at the 2005 Internext Expo.

“We think that this mobile market is going to be a new revenue stream,” Coffman told XBiz on Thursday. “More important than that, it is going to give [providers] a new way to market to customers.”