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Dial P for porn

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

The internet is finally poised to take off on cellphones in North America (thank you very much, iPhone), which now begs the question: Will porn on mobile devices follow suit? It sure has in Europe - the industry there raked in $775 million U.S. in 2007, compared to a paltry $26 million U.S. in North America, according to this Reuters story. That's a huge discrepancy, so what exactly has held back mobile porn on this side of the Atlantic?

Two things, according to the story. First up, there are those who object to pornography on moral grounds. Telus a year ago backed off offering adult content -- pictures and videos -- for sale over its cellphones in response to objections from customers and the Catholic Church. Secondly, there were the technological limitations. After all, what sort of porn aficionado wants to watch their videos on a one-inch screen? There's also the issue of cellphone carriers tightly controlling what goes over their networks and what sort of content ultimately ends up on handsets.

Well, that second problem is about to go away. Not only are screens getting bigger (thanks again, iPhone), but cellphone providers -- in the United States, anyways -- are opening their networks and handsets to third-party developers, either by force or voluntarily. The porn industry is meeting right now to figure out exactly how to capitalize on this coming trend.

The first issue, however, is a tougher nut for the adult industry industry to crack, but mobile just might be the way to do it. While a prevalance of adult entertainment on the fixed internet hasn't changed North American conservatism toward sex, mobile porn could be different. After all -- watching dirty videos in the privacy of one's home on the computer is one thing, but watching them on a bus full of people is another. While only a daring few are likely to try this at first for fear of the nasty looks they are sure to attract, it could be something that gradually becomes more acceptable.

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