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Mobile

Playboy aims to sex up U.S. mobile phones

Hugh Hefner's enterprise inks deal to sell racy images and ring tones next year in the United States and Canada. Photo: The next sexy phone?

Is that static on the line or heavy breathing?

Playboy Enterprises' plan to introduce adult entertainment for mobile phones next year may leave some people wondering.

Under an agreement with Seattle-based Dwango Wireless, Playboy plans to sell adult mobile-phone content in the United States and Canada for the first time early next year.

The deal, announced Thursday, calls for Dwango to develop and deliver Playboy-theme games, images, video clips, voice clips and ring tones. The wireless-entertainment firm has similar arrangements with ESPN and Rolling Stone, and distributes that content to subscribers through agreements with major wireless carriers such as Cingular, Nextel, T-Mobile and Verizon.

The Playboy deal makes for some strange bedfellows, however. Dwango also has a distribution deal with Beliefnet, a religious Web site that features meditation guides and prayers of the day.

The Playboy service is likely to feature images from the company's magazine, while audio clips will focus on jazz and hip hop music, Dwango representative Nicole Bahr said.

Subscribers who request R-rated content will be asked to verify that they are 18 years of age or older, a Playboy representative said. In addition, the service will appear as a separate item on subscribers' wireless services or credit card bills.

The companies have not yet set a price for the service, but it's likely to be close to the $1.99 to $4.99 that Dwango typically charges for ring tones and images, Bahr said.

Playboy already sells wireless entertainment overseas, including in Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil. With its expansion into North America, the company estimates that it will tap a market of more than 170 million wireless subscribers.