Porn Companies Show 'Appitude' In Cashing In on App Craze

iPhone App Ban
iPhone App Ban

A little under a year ago, Apple began cleaning up its app store, seemingly banning app after app that had any form of titillation. Citing complaints from customers who found the apps degrading and upset about what children were able to see, the company vigorously purged hundreds of apps that focused on subjects such as women in swimsuits.

But porn is like water. It finds a way into everything and is actually thriving on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

From live interactions with models and wannabe porn stars to sex toy tie-ins, the adult entertainment industry has invaded the iOS world. And if you follow the consumer electronics space at all, that’s probably not a big surprise.

Porn, after all, is often the first to explore new tech frontiers. It was largely responsible for VHS tapes winning out over Beta and it established a foothold in the Internet long before corporate America began to realize the Web’s potential.

Apple doesn’t sanction any porn apps or let them anywhere near the app store, but its inclusion of features like FaceTime chat have given the industry a back door into iDevices.

Sites like iP4Play let iPhone 4 users chat with a variety of models, much like the 1-900 phone sex lines of yore. With visual chat enabled, though, the product is much more graphic.

It’s also more expensive. The site charges anywhere from $20 for a five-minute session to $90 for a half-hour one. And, it turns out, it’s exceedingly popular.

Travis Falstad, managing director of iP4P, says the company has seen revenues grow at an average of 30 percent per week since launch—and international adoption has been spiking recently as well.

Perhaps more importantly, the customers who may try the service one time out of sheer curiosity are coming back.

“It’s been really crazy,” says Falstad, who prior to launching this company with his partner developed mobile games for Electronic Arts. “If we get a customer, there’s a 65-70 percent likelihood that they’ll return.”

Porn companies have also gotten smarter about optimizing their Websites for iDevices. Digital Playground (which says it has been a member of the Apple Developer program for the last decade) led the charge on the iPad, installing a sniffer in its Web code to recognize when a user was coming from an iOS device and optimizing the site – and all of its videos – for that device.

Pink Visual, meanwhile, has a collection of 10 porn Websites that are coded specifically for mobile devices, with the iPhone being the primary target – each catering to different customer interests.

The spread of porn onto the iPhone and iPad might actually be having a financial effect on mainstream businesses—specificallyLodgeNet , one of the leading providers of on-demand programming in hotels

Revenues at the company have fallen this year – in part due to people watching films (porn and otherwise) on their portable devices. Third quarter revenue was down 4 percent from 2009, following a 12 percent drop in the second quarter.

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Meanwhile, even the growing sex toy industry has found a way to utilize Apple’s products. Users of the OhMiBod adult novelties hook their iPods up to the devices, which then vibrate to the rhythm and intensity of the music.

There’s even an approved app that turns your iPhone into a pleasure device. MyVibe, a free download, uses the phone’s vibrate functionality to stimulate users.

An Apple spokesperson said the app was allowed as it was not something that objectified women like the ones the company removed in the purge.