Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Playboy Launches Controversial Mobile Initiatives

One of the most controversial mobile content plays is pornography, and last week at CTIA, arguably the biggest name—Playboy launched a series of mobile initiatives. Perhaps because of the controversial nature, the press conference was held at night at Hugh Hefner’s Sky Villa at the Palm’s Casino Resort (we hear it’s $40,000 a night), rather than the sterile convention center. Before I get to the announcements, I thought I’d give a little background on where the industry stands on questionable material. The CTIA association said that the wireless industry has pledged not to offer any “Restricted Carrier Content” until it has provided controls to allow parents to restrict access, or there’s sufficient age-verification mechanisms. But this only applies to carrier-distributed content, and in the off-deck world, it’s the open Internet. Here’s an overview of the announcements:
-- Miss Playboy Mobile: CTIA marked the inaugural Miss Playboy Mobile 2008 model search, which invited women nationwide to register for the non-nude, lifestyle-based online profiles at mspbm.com. Next year, the event will go global with the winner being revealed at Mobile World Congress in Feb. 2009.
-- Playboy Launches Mobile Sites: Users going to www.playboy.com on an iPhone will be re-directed to the iPhone-specific site called iPlayboy, which includes on scene footage from various projects and mobile-specific features such as “Battle of the Sexiest,” “Playboy Radio,” and “Scout,” a blog offering candid perspectives on sex, dating, and other lifestyle topics. The site is ad-supported and has a content storefront. Playboy is also relaunching the general mobile site at PlayboyMobile.com. The portal offers multimedia content including “Playboy on the Scene,” “Miss Playboy Mobile,” and “Playboy Around the World.” Users also will be able to register for free weekly ad-sponsored video content.
-- Playboy Content Deals: Playboy signed deals with MixerCast to create the Miss Playboy Mobile social-media widget. The company also partnered with free video service mywaves, to deliver Playboy video content, and through a partnership with THQ (NSDQ: THQI) Wireless, a game called “Pool Party” will launch in July. More are in the works.

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