Buried right at the back of the Fira complex in Barcelona is the 3GSM mobile content hall, which shows how important (or not) mobile music, video and gaming is to the bigwigs who run the mobile industry. Tsk.
Still, the hall has a bunch of mobile MySpace wannabes, a few games companies, Yahoo and some mobile adult firms. An example of the latter is Brickhouse Mobile, complete with its very own adult star Aria Giovanni manning the stall. It’s a bit disconcerting shaking hands with someone before watching a video of them writhing naked in a shower, but maybe I just don’t go to the right parties.
Anyway, I talked to Brickhouse Mobile’s Clinton Fayling to find out what it’s all about.
The company is based in Denver, and makes a range of content, including running WAP sites for porn stars (which is why Aria was on the stand – the company has just launched her mobile site). So what kind of adult stuff are people looking at on their phones?
“It varies from market to market,” he says. “We’re moving a lot to streaming TV, producing five or six hours programming at a time that’s then looped, and offered on a subscription basis. In the US, that opportunity doesn’t yet exist, so it’s more about wallpapers, which might seem a bit passé in the UK market. Plus we make mobile applications too.”
The obvious – if slightly rude – question about mobile erotica is, well, why? Why watch adult video on a 1.5-inch screen on a device that you use in public, when you could just go home and surf the Web or watch DVDs?
“We’re never going to replace the PC or your TV,” says Fayling. “It’s about bite-size chunks of content on mobile. We’re about filling time, whether it’s somebody sitting on the tube, in traffic, going to the bathroom or waiting at a doctor’s office. Whatever it may be, it’s three-to-seven minute chunks that really drives things. Plus also the phone itself is a highly personal device. Think about somebody who’s married, whose spouse may not be too keen on them watching cable TV…”
Companies like Playboy and Penthouse have moved into mobile, selling videos and images based on their existing content. Are they dominating? Fayling says not.
“Frankly those are your dad’s brands. They’re recognized around the world, but they don’t match the mobile consumers. So while we do work with brands, whether it’s movie studios or individual stars, overall it’s more genre-based, filling different categories based on individual tastes.”
So where’s all this going, technology-wise? Will it just be rolling video footage on mobile for the foreseeable future? Fayling says that more interactivity is on the cards, building on mobile’s strengths as a communications medium.
“If you’re going to watch a video of Aria and be able to chat to her while you’re watching, or call to ask her a question, that’s got lots of potential,” he says. “It’s a matter of finding out what consumers’ tastes are, and then matching it.”
Would you dial up a porn star on the train home from work? It seems a bit far-fetched, but if there’s anyone who knows how to make money from new technologies, it’s the adult industry, so don’t bet against it.