Porn producer leans on iPhone to lure new customers

Digital Playground, one of the largest makers of adult content, is among the first companies to produce an iPhone-optimized Web site.

Update 6:08 p.m. PST: This story has been changed to add comment from Google, and to address streaming adult content on the iPhone.

LAS VEGAS--Apple might not want anything to do with it, but if one thing is clear, it's that porn on the iPhone is going to be huge.

While there don't seem to be any porn-related apps available for the iPhone, there is a plethora of adult entertainment available on the Web, and a growing amount of that content is being optimized for Apple's hit device.

At the Adult Entertainment Expo (AEE) here Friday, I had a chance to talk to two executives from Digital Playground, one of the world's leading porn producers, about the latest technological advances their company, and their competitors, are implementing, and it seems that the iPhone is a very big piece of the puzzle.

AEE is being put on at the same time as the Consumer Electronics Show, and many at the adult show are looking to CES for new technology to adapt their content for.

One major goal for Digital Playground is to make as much of its content available on the iPhone as possible, said the company's founder and director, a man who goes by the name of Joone. Essentially, the idea is to make the device an extension of the Web, so that when people buy memberships, they can watch movies on their computer, or on their iPhone, without having to distinguish between the available content.

The front door of the iPhone-optimized Digital Playground Web site. The company is one of the leaders in making adult content available for the iPhone. Daniel Terdiman/CNET News

"We're trying to make it transparent," Joone said, "so that guy doesn't have to worry about whether to purchase something new, so he can say, 'I want to watch it on my iPhone, or I want to watch it on my computer.'"

Joone said these days the tools available to content producers make it extremely easy to port content produced originally for the Web to the iPhone. As a result, Digital Playground--and its competitors--are going to have to put much of their efforts in this area into figuring out how to give their customers the best possible, and simplest, user experience.

"Just click and watch," Joone said. "So it might not give the same kind of experience as on a computer, but you get to what you want pretty quickly."

To date, said Farley Cahen, Digital Playground's vice president of new media, the company has made about 300 full-length movies available for the iPhone, and that it has the first fully-optimized site for the platform.

What that means, he said, is that users can simply enter the normal Digital Playground URL into their iPhone instead of needing some special mobile URL. The site "sniffs" the device and automatically brings up the optimized site, Cahen explained.

"You can sort by performer, keyword, or movie title," Cahen said, "and over Wi-Fi, or 3G, it works really well."

Of course, Digital Playground isn't the only adult content producer making their movies available on the iPhone. A Google search for "iPhone porn" returns millions of results. But Digital Playground seems to be among the most committed to building an iPhone-optimized site suitable for large amounts of its content.

Down the line, he said, there are a series of advances coming to the company's iPhone library.

One, he said, is the ability to parse a movie by scene, since, as he said, "a lot of adult content is consumed in scenes, rather than full-length."

For now, the point is, someone watching a Digital Playground movie on the iPhone would need to either watch it straight through, or fast-forward to his or her desired point.

Another innovation, he said, would be social aspects, like ratings and the ability to see which clips have been viewed the most times.

And so, combined with the company's DVD offerings, as well as its traditional Web content, the growing availability of Digital Playground movies for the iPhone means it can "allow our consumer to access our content in the highest quality however, wherever, and whenever they want."

Cahen said that Digital Playground wants the ability to make an iPhone application, which would make it even easier for its users to access its content. But Apple has made it clear: No porn apps .

I asked him if Google's Android phone might offer an alternative, given that Google is far more hands-off about what kinds of apps it is allowing on its smartphone than Apple, though it does have restrictions on the applications available through its official Android Market.

Cahen suggested that while Android seems to present Digital Playground and other adult content producers the option to create applications, he said he is not yet sold on the platform.

"They're a ways off from actually competing with the iPhone" on functionality, he said. "The general features of the iPhone far outweigh the (Android) features."

A Google spokesperson said, "Android Market is not the only source for Android applications. Any Web site can post applications for download which can be installed via the Android browser. However, we have built the Market to ensure quality applications and security for the user, and we recommend safe downloads through this service.

For Digital Playground, making content available on mobile platforms isn't just altruism. In fact, Cahen said, the company has a tremendous conversion rate for people who visit its iPhone site.

As a result, the company is going to continue to work on new developments for the platform, and Cahen said the biggest innovation that it will have down the line is likely to be streaming porn.

However, some other producers, such as Pornhub, already offer streaming adult content.

For companies like Digital Playground, streaming may well be a holy grail. Cahen said he sees a huge demand for live streaming video of porn stars doing their business, even including their preparations for work.

 

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