iPad's Dirty Little Secret to Success: Porn (SFW)

iPad Porn

Apple can posture and ban sexy iPhone apps and Suicide Girls all it wants. Come March, porn will help the iPad rock. Here's why. (The following is perfectly safe for work.)

Like it or love it, there's no denying the power of Internet porn. If you're a worker in the TV, video, or computer industry, it's one of the key drivers behind some of the tech you use on a daily basis. Remember the famous tape format battle between VHS and Betamax (the technically superior system)? VHS's convenience for porn producers' partly resulted in it becoming the dominant video system. Widespread adoption by the porn industry also helped Blu-ray's success over HD-DVD.

Its laser-like focus on cash has given porn an edge in technology development history. And it's a business that's always looking for new and novel ways to deliver its product through systems that appeal to its consumers--the one who gets there quickest gets the biggest share of the booty. Pornographic Web sites test drove online payment systems as ways to make quick bucks while everyone else bit their nails and waited years for PayPal. Broadband crushed slow dial-up in part due to users' hunger for speedy, sexy data...porn. Going back further, porn was thriving at the dawn of cable TV and photography itself. One of the first popular uses of the printing press was to publish pornographic writing and imagery.

Today it's a multi-billion dollar industry powered by the human psyche and high technology. It's hard to put a finger on it precisely, but the U.S. porn industry alone is probably worth a long way north of $10 billion per year. Remember the famous adage: "If all the porn was clensed from the Internet, then there's just be a single Web site in the world. It would say--'bring back all the porn!'" Porn has always been with us, and probably always will in one form or another.

Even on Apple's iPad.

This 21st Century device is likely to be a ripsnorting sales success around the globe, if the iPhone's runaway wins are anything to go by. It's a perfect media consumption device, and Steve Jobs himself has said it's the "best way to surf the Net." It's easy to use, has a fabulously simple user interface, an excellent screen, good battery life, and jaunty responsiveness.

Where, exactly, does pornography fit in here? Not likely in the form of apps--Apple's always maintained a fairly stiff line on adult content in the app store, and has recently gone on a highly puritanical purge to remove apps that are even mildly suggestive, resulting in over 5,000 apps being ditched from the app store. But the mobile Internet is one of the iPad's biggest selling points. And where you have the Internet, you have porn.

The iPhone's led the way here, with many Web sites delivering porn photos and videos in a format compatible with the devices' Mobile Safari browser. Safari is, however, perfectly capable of tackling normal Web pages...as long as there is no Flash, as the long-running and silly battle about this rages on. Flash video is one of the key technologies to transmit porn on the Web, currently--a fact that Adobe itself even played up in a post slating the iPad's "broken link" and showing a screenshot from Bang Brothers. And while there's been some effort to accommodate non-Flash systems, aimed specially at iPhone porn surfers, the iPhone's small screen doesn't really lend itself to the job. But the iPad has a 9.7-incher...And who do you think is going to seize that opportunity, with potentially tens of millions of customers?

iPad Porn

Well, yes, you're right: Google, with YouTube. It's already testing out a non Flash-powered video delivery system that makes use of the open-format HTML5 system (which Safari supports) which will most likely supersede the proprietary Flash system in a few years. But if there's one single industry which is agile--aggressively so--and ready to quickly adopt a new technology fast in order to make a quick buck, it's the adult content industry. You can bet many sites'll be wrapping video content in iPad-friendly code before too long, and charging visitors handsomely for the privilege (or embedding the sites with ads, and making a profit this way.) Then, because HTML5 video is also compatible with desktop browsing too, Flash might well go the way of Betamax and HDDVD.

iPad PornPorn--in whatever format--will hardly be the sole driver of iPad success. But when it becomes clear just how much people are enjoying their new Apple tablet computer, its ease of use and its go-anywhere Internet convenience, the word of mouth effect will kick in. And the plethora of new iPad-compatible porn sites, with their streaming video systems and online payment shopping baskets, will find a large, appreciative audience.

Tough luck, Adobe. And sorry, Steve. It's just going to be this way. The iPad is a perfect device for a spot of pink-pixel surfing. Take solace in the millions of dollars that'll roll in to Apple from device sales.

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