Porn Downloads #1 Use of Video iPod

As with the video cassette recorder, premium cable, and the Internet, the early profit leader is porn.

Mini-Porn Could Be Mega-Business (WaPo, D1)

Apple Computer Inc. took 20 days to reach 1 million downloads of video files from its online store; the Web site SuicideGirls, offering free videos of unclothed models, hit the mark in about a week. One of the quickest industries to take advantage of the new video iPod, and other new gadgets, is one that has often been at the forefront of other technological innovations: porn.

Pornography is spreading from the computer desktop to the small screen, to pocket-sized devices such as cell phones, digital music players and portable game players. The phenomenon is being pushed not only by alternative-culture sites such as SuicideGirls but also by old-school skin traders such as Playboy and Penthouse, which this month announced plans to offer movies for viewing on portable devices.

Almost as quickly, a trade group for wireless carriers has responded with a plan for a rating system, such as that used in the movie industry, to help prevent children from seeing inappropriate content on mobile phones. The Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association last week announced that member companies agreeing to the voluntary proposal will not offer adult-oriented images or programming until such a system is in place, though they cannot prevent users from getting material on the Internet.

The sale of adult entertainment for downloading to cell phones is a multimillion-dollar business in Europe already. In Japan, adult film companies released movies to watch on Sony’s PlayStation Portable within weeks of the gadget’s debut this spring. Though still in its infancy in the United States, the portable porn market could grow to nearly $200 million a year here by 2009, according to Boston-based research firm Yankee Group.


Harvey Kaplan, an Internet porn industry veteran, said sales are growing “fast and furious” for his new company, called Xobile, which focuses exclusively on selling porn for cell phones and handheld computers. “The adult Internet marketplace hit a ceiling about two years back,” he said. “I started looking for alternate ways to reach the same market — this seemed the logical place to go.”

The proliferation has caught some off-guard. Parry Aftab, the director of, an organization devoted to helping parents keep porn away from their kids online, said the mobilization of digital porn is something even most plugged-in parents generally are not aware of yet. “Even parents who are watching their kids’ computers are clueless that they’ve put a [cell phone] in their kid’s hands that can be used to trade this stuff around,” she said. Aftab added that she sees the problem as one that requires parental education, not new laws.

A more fundamental issue might be whether people even want to see adult entertainment on tiny, two-inch video screens? Ralph Whittington, a former curator at the Library of Congress dubbed “the king of porn” for amassing a carefully catalogued collection of adult magazines, videos and DVDs, said in a phone interview that he does not get the trend. “I can’t see anybody wanting to watch while they’re sitting at the airport,” Whittington said. “I just don’t see how it’s going to be all that popular.”

Proponents argue that the anonymity and privacy offered by a mobile gadget could be a major selling point. Sex columnist Regina Lynn, who writes for, thinks cell phones and iPods could find a niche among viewers who are reluctant to download X-rated video clips on their desktop or laptop computer’s hard drive. “When I first heard about this, I thought it was a novelty, but I’ve changed my mind,” she said. “I think that the porn industry will probably be pretty quick to figure out what works and sells for mobile devices.”

I must agree with Whittington: I don’t get the appeal of watching porn, or much of anything, on a tiny screen that is designed to be operated somewhere other than the privacy of one’s home. I suppose it would be attractive to adolescents who need to get away from the prying eyes of their parents.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    It’s an issue of value. THose downloads cost money. The people downloading are looking for the best entertainment value.
    Or, put another way, it’s an issue of ‘bang for the buck’.


  2. legion says:

    I heard something on a tech review program on the G4 channel awhile ago that seems particularly relevant here… I’m paraphrasing a little, but:

    If it’s not a technology porn is trying to break into, it’s not a technology with a future.

    True wisdom, that.

  3. Well, if porn is the number one thing being downloaded to iPods, one can assume that at least SOME parents are aware of it. (:

  4. Sum Guy says:

    I think its fair to point out that the adult industry has helped advance technology in a variety of ways. legion’s quote sums it up.

    Anyways, free ViPod porn is a great idea for pay sites. The idea is that the free content will drive people to the pay site for more.

    As for parents & their children… if your little boy or girl is seeking this stuff out, maybe they aren’t as innocent as you’d like to believe.

  5. Carsten says:

    I am just wondering what the news is? as you point out correctly pretty much any medium (and it doesn’t start with the VCR, but pretty much print) has had porn as one of it earliest uses and technology drivers. Does this mean we should condemn the medium? or the message? Even if the linked story or this blog entry wouldn’t have been written this news would have been assumed, it would have been news on the other hand if Disney downloads would have topped porn …

  6. rik says:

    “I don’t get the appeal of watching porn, or much of anything, on a tiny screen that is designed to be operated somewhere other than the privacy of one’s home.”

    OK, where do you prefer to watch porn?

  7. bryan says:

    it would have been news on the other hand if Disney downloads would have topped porn

    Actually, it would have been news if Disney had been producing the pr0n!

  8. BWE says:

    Are you for real?

  9. As someone who has to make occasional trips to the heartland of america where cell-phone or internet access is anything but accessible – such portable porn is a beautiful thing.

    And with a $20 cable it’s easy to hook up the video to play on a full screen tv…

  10. Elmo says:

    Don’t forget to accessorize,,2-2005520728,00.html

    (big smiley face here)

  11. McGehee says:

    Are you for real?

    Define “real.” 😉

  12. BWE says:

    real: adj.
    Genuine and authentic; not artificial or spurious: real mink; real humility.