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Friday, July 30, 2010

Apple’s iPorn war.

Steve might have to let this one go and just claim mission accomplished. Soon as I saw Facetime on the iPhone 4, I knew it would hamper iGod’s desire to keep porn out of Apple devices. I never got his whole argument though. Desktops and laptops have always let you see whatever you want, so banning adult content in the iTunes store just drives people to Firefox or Safari for the free stuff. (Maybe his small victory here is in the more closed confines of the iPod, iPhone and iPad.)

Either way, for Jobs to accomplish his porn-freetopia, it quickly becomes a Big Brother issue. The only way to reach it is with a ban at the ISP level, which would raise huge censorship and free speech issues. Craigslist ads which skirt sex trade policies are one thing, but telling two consenting adults what they can and can’t, um, *exchange* in a private video chat?

He’s not that stupid.

As has been said of new technology throughout the years, adult content tends to drive its adoption. Aka, early adopters are geeks who can’t get dates and need porn. That unscientific blog theory aside, this is not just an Apple problem.

The promise of a teleconferencing future eventually meant people were going to have to deal with seeing each other, and not just talking. And like most office technology that finds its way into homes, did anyone not think real-time video would be next?

The fear people once had of being seen working from home in their underwear has been trashed thanks to Chatroulette. Forget fear, hell, people expect to be seen in their underwear there—and less. Underscoring the point about technological adoption and adult content, the service, like some social networks, finds itself scrambling to eliminate the pervs, and not for any sense of moral righteousness either. (If this was the case, they would’ve addressed this from the start and not embrace it the way they did.)

Porn though tends to scare away advertisers. Duh. But the operating Catch-22.0 seems to be: I use porn to build traffic to get on the radar of advertisers, but now I need to stop relying on it so I can attract....

And maybe this is Jobs’ fear. I don’t doubt he’s offended from a moral perspective; he’s said as much in the past. But while adult content may be big business, it tends to get in the way when you’re going after Proctor & Gamble on a new ad platform.

Lose the overall war just to win the iPorn fight. Mission accomplished.

1 comment:

Ben Kunz said...

It always interests me how people use technology, and how the uses often surprise the creators of it. Twitter started as a status update and now is an ecosystem for sending links and building human relationships, not in the original plan. The web really took off as a CERN sharing tool and become a network of corporate sponsorships and consumer creation. Two-way video is next, and it will be intriguing to see which direction it cuts in; while I'd like to think logical uses such as telecommunication, more likely teen sexting or live CNN reporting or other strange unforeseen uses will emerge.

The lesson is when you build platforms, you can't control what climbs on top.