Web apps are sexy -- literally

07 Jun 2011

Amidst all the hoopla over mobile apps and app stores, the ugly truth is that the whole app-store thing will be as good as dead in a few years.

At least according to this Technology Review post, which quotes former Google engineer Brian Kennish predicting that the rise of HTML5-enabled web apps will soon displace native apps thanks to efforts like Google Chrome. Also, points out TR blogger Christopher Mims, Windows 8 is focused squarely on apps supporting HTML5, suggesting that native apps have a limited shelf life.

Either way, here's one interesting thing to consider: no matter how fast web apps evolve to take over the market, guess which content providers will be leading the charge?

Adult entertainment.

Which is interesting to me in part because while adult content has a glorious history of driving new technology formats (home video, CD-ROMs, the Web, etc) by finding a business model that works, mobile has been more elusive – not because they missed the boat, but because most cellcos wouldn’t let them onboard, either because of local content regulations or (more frequently) because of age verification issues.

Similarly, adult content players have had problems harnessing the app-store juggernaut thanks to restrictive content policies, particularly for Apple’s App Store.

Consequently, they’ve been directing their energy on web apps instead.

[NOTE: All links from here on out are NSFW]

“All major players in the adult industry – Playboy, Private Media, Adam & Eve, Penthouse (launching soon), AEBN, Vivid, Pink Visual – have already developed iPhone, iPad and Android optimized web versions of their services, cleverly marketed as ‘Get Playboy on your iPad today’ and similar,” says Julia Dimambro, managing director of mobile adult content pioneer Cherry Media.

And they’re already exploring monetization models for HTML5 apps as uptake grows and more devices support it.

“Private Media for example, launched this html5 microsite towards the end of last year - receiving a much higher conversion rate to the sale of its products than other native apps it had tested in the past,” Dimambro said in an email.

That last bit is a key detail when noting that the average price points for native mobile apps are declining and the expectation to pay for apps is also decreasing as competition gets more intense, she adds.

“We hear a LOT of hype around mind-blowing download figures, but very little positive results for effective commercialization of apps for the majority of developers and/or businesses,” Dimambro says. “I believe the adult industry has once again identified the optimum platform for reaching its demand within a ‘new media’ and will innovate to create and define the most effective monetization strategies and m-commerce solutions for the mainstream industry.”

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