A brief history of the ups and downs of mobile adult entertainment.
Adult Entertainment has had a turbulent beginning on mobile. Not least because of the Mobile Network Operators who controlled the communication and distribution channels to the potential end-consumers. Something that wasn’t evident in the internet boom.
But how has this specialist and politically charged sector matured over the last 8-10 years since its launch on mobile? What has affected its evolution and where does the future lie for adult entertainment on mobile?
With Cherry Media launching in September of 2003 and being one of the very first mobile adult services anywhere in the world, we have had a ringside seat to its ups and downs, so here are a few of the key milestones and events that have helped mould what the next generation of mobile erotica will be.
I launched Cherry Media in the summer of 2003. Typical start-up story of a one-‘woman’ show with a laptop and a strong belief that adult entertainment on mobile was going to be as HUGE as it was on fixed-line Internet!
Within the year however, operators, aggregators and just about everyone in mobile saw the opportunity. The UK had launched Age-Verification with great success, Juniper Research was predicting there would be $1bn dollars in mobile adult revenues during 2005 and glamour and adult were just another part of content aggregation for many Operators. So much so that in 2006, the first Mobile Entertainment Awards (hosted by ME Magazine) comfortably included a ‘Best Adult Company’ to the mainstream line up of honours.
But it was far from plain sailing for adult entertainment to reach the expectations. The Operators ‘owned’ all the customers we wanted to reach and decided that they knew best when it came to what customers wanted for erotica. Creating consumer-focused deliveries, horizontal choice or viable commercial models became increasingly challenging. By 2006 Analysis Research launched an adult mobile report stating that revenues from adult in 2005 were only $1.8bn ($200 million shy of Juniper’s predictions) and forecasted that they were only going to increase to $2.3bn over the next 3 years.
By 2007 and into 2008, adult was very much ‘out of fashion’ in the mobile industry. It hadn’t achieved that ‘money shot’ everyone expected in terms of ‘easy money’ and although it was now present to some degree on most global operator portals, the lack of understanding for this politically charged genre meant that it was being approached incorrectly. Porn had got boring! (Yes! I am using the words porn and boring in the same sentence!).
It was during this time that Cherry launched its Digital Erotic Retailing© in the attempt to try and help D2C providers to create an ‘erotic retailing experience’ instead of a ‘stack it high, sell it cheap’ shop-front approach that was being adopted in an attempt to compensate for the lack of understanding.
But in December 2008, Juniper released a second report citing that despite the economic slowdown as we headed into global recession, the underlying mass-demand for adult entertainment in the most accessible channel of our time had proved robust with total revenues for 2008 at around $2.2bn, (just shy of the pre-recession forecasts).
Of course a couple of very exciting things DID happen during this time that would affect every aspect of Mobile Entertainment – The launch of the first iPhone on January 9, 2007 was closely followed by Google on the 5th of November of that same year when they unveiled the Open Handset Alliance and their first product, Android.
And so our playing field changed forever! An open D2C marketplace was being catapulted into the consumer’s eye line, showing them a world beyond the operator deck and one that was infinitely cooler in the form of slick handsets and rich, interactive environments called Apps!
But in early 2010, the most prominent consumer app store, Apple, created a bizarre turn of events by removing over 5,000 ‘sexy’ apps from its store overnight, with Jobs telling the world if they wanted porn – get an Android!
And so we shall Mr Jobs – Android led the smartphone growth last year in most Western European countries, where shipments increased 450 % year-on-year and market share jumped from 4% in 2Q09 to 15% in 2Q10. In the U.S., Google phones accounted for 27% of smartphone sales, nudging past the 23% share held by Apple and overall, Android smartphone shipments had grown 886% year-on-year by Q2 2010.
A genuinely OPEN market place is emerging, giving customers the choice of what THEY want to buy, but remaining within easily controllable environments to maintain the extensive and successful results that the mobile industry has achieved with access controls.
At the tail end of 2009, Analysis Mason predicted that “Adult content services will continue to be the third largest service category in terms of revenue. It will account for 18% of mobile media & entertainment revenues”.
I’m sure you’ll agree there’s still very much an opportunity there worth exploring and in the meantime, I’ll be using my industry trade Apps for iPhone to see what developments will happen in our truly amazing and dynamic industry in the year ahead! (They are sat next to my Playboy App – One of the few that Steve didn’t take objection to).