Cell Phone Users Put Porn in Their Pockets

Opinion: Sex talk? Adult content? It's coming to mobile phones-and in full-color video. Jupiter Research says it's a $1 billion business. Can it be stopped?

Youve read all about mobile content. Its the hottest thing in mobile and wireless right now. And whats hottest about it is streaming video.

Well, its about to get a lot hotter, and whats setting it afire is the demand for … ahem, let us gently describe it as adult content.

A recent report from Juniper Research found that the adult industry is not only alive and well, its booming in Europe and Asia, where 3G technologies have long supported the kinds of colorful graphics and streaming video that are only now beginning to arrive in the United States.

Worldwide adult revenues are poised to top $1 billion this year and double to $2 billion by 2009, according to Juniper.

While this comes as a sober reminder that the adult industry is still out there pushing the technological envelope, it isnt exactly news.

The adult industry (I call it porn, although many of those in that industry tend to frown on that word) has been with us a long time. So long, in fact, that many of those in it seem to believe their real rainmaking days are behind them.

Last year, when British magazine Total Telecom explored the issue in an online forum, Jacques LeDisco, a content developer with Radicaltek, expressed doubts.

His company, he said, now markets "orgasm ringtones and adult color logos, as well as mobile betting," but he added, "as for porn, the volume of free content now available on the Web makes this an unappealing business on mobile phones."

Well, theres probably a bit more to it than that.

Juniper sees the growth in the business coming in Europe and Asia—partly because those continents lead North America in their adoption of 3G technologies capable of delivering interactive video, and partly because nudie flicks delivered to a handheld device just hits a little too close to American homes.

Researchers believe, nevertheless, that U.S. customers who want such content will find a way to get it.

The North American market, researchers say, could reach $400 million by 2010. But, in all likelihood, aficionados of the stuff wont be ordering it up from mobile operators in quite the way they get other mobile services.

Next page: Why will US carriers shun XXX-rated services?