Forget day-old episodes of "Desperate Housewives" or the latest Beastie Boys music video. The most anticipated release being formatted for Apple's new video iPod could be the 2005 remake of the 1972 porn classic, "The Devil in Miss Jones."
While Apple Computer Inc. has announced no plans to stream X-rated videos from its popular iTunes site, L.A.'s multi-billion dollar adult entertainment industry is busily churning out content both for the iPod and other portable media players that users can access from producers' Web sites.
"There's no red tape at most adult companies, so when we see a new technology we're able to test and get something out to markets immediately, whereas Hollywood movie companies have to deal with directors and producers and all sorts of things," said Steven Hirsh, co-founder and chief executive at Los Angeles-based Vivid Entertainment Group, one of the world's largest adult film producers.
Hirsh expects "The New Devil in Miss Jones," which went on sale last month on DVD, to be available for downloading for use on the iPod within a few weeks from Vivid's Web site.
While video content for the iPod is still limited, video cell phone content is an exploding market in Europe and Asia where service providers have been less squeamish about marketing adult content once technology to screen out under-age viewers was put in place.
That same dynamic is expected to occur domestically as sales of the new video-enabled iPod accelerate and more cell phone users upgrade to newer, higher bandwidth, third generation, or 3G, units that are capable of playing large, high-resolution video files.
"The video quality for most U.S. cell phone users just isn't there yet," said Tyler Goldman, who oversees new media initiatives for Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt's Flynt Management Group in Los Angeles.
But Tyler predicts that high-quality video over U.S. wireless networks will take off in 2006 and early 2007, "and trust me, the top media that will be displayed and bought that way will be adult."
As for the iPod, Apple officials did not return calls for comment.
The adult industry has a history of driving new distribution platforms, starting in the early 1980s with video cassettes, and more recently, with DVD sales.
Executives at "American Idol" producer FremantleMedia realize that adult content would mean instant success for Thumbdance, their soon-to-be launched wireless video subscription service aimed at men ages 18-34. For now, the sauciest content available is likely to be past episodes of "Baywatch," according to Michael Jaffe, the Santa Monica-based senior vice president for business development.
"Every new media technology has been driven by adult media, but for now we choose to remain mainstream as a matter of corporate policy," Jaffe said. "It would be hard for us to be the producers of both 'Debbie Does Dallas 15' and 'American Idol.'"
Adult content is not yet a menu option on U.S. wireless services, but nearly all adult Internet sites sell video computer downloads that can be transferred to an Internet-enabled cell phone, a video iPod or devices like a Sony PlayStation Portable.
While iPod users can download audio and video files as quickly as their broadband Internet connection allows, most cell phones in the U.S. lack the bandwidth, storage capacity and battery life to make anything other than a short clip worth viewing.
As a result, Vivid has focused on overseas markets for direct distribution of wireless adult content. In the U.S. it has a deal with Xobile, a subsidiary of the Charlotte, N.C.-based distribution giant Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network.
Xobile has a service that enables adult video store shoppers to view short video clips on their camera cell phone by scanning a DVD's barcode into their camera phone. The shoppers must first have downloaded Xobile's proprietary software, which makes it possible to access the content from the Internet.
Key to making adult content for portable video players is formatting it for the significantly smaller cell phone screen, which can make a regular video image look squished. Hirsh said he's solving that problem by shooting mini movies for the small screen, alongside the full-length direct-to-DVD version.
Harvey Kaplan, Xobile's chief operating officer, is among many predicting that adult content will accelerate sales of 3G cell phones, which Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel have been rapidly upgrading their networks to serve.
He expects wireless adult content to become a multi-million dollar business worldwide in the next three to five years. "Most people won't buy a 3G cell phone so they can access a Disney trailer, but they will for adult content," Kaplan said.
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