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Steve Jobs finds strange bedfellows

30 Jun

With the smoke from the G20 clearing and all the various calls for public inquiries, ranging from police violence to human rights violations, it’s probably about time we got back down to business here in Sex, Bombs and Burgers land. That means no more neglecting of war, porn and fast food news.

There’s been quite a bit in the past week, particularly in the adult entertainment world. There was, of course, the important ruling by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), or the group that regulates things like internet addresses, last week on the whole issue of “dot-xxx.”

ICANN has given conditional approval to the new domain name, which will be applied to adult sites in the same way that .com or .org is used. But, in the first of two “strange-bedfellows” stories today, the ruling is highly controversial. In Australia, the porn industry and Christian lobbyists are both against the decision. Porn companies don’t want to be governed by a third party that knows nothing about their industry, while the Christians are worried that giving adult companies their own domain suffix further legitimizes them. The respective positions in Australia generally represent the developed world at large. Clearly, the dot-xxx issue is still a long way from being resolved, but it’s pretty funny that these two disparate sides are united against ICANN.

The more interesting “strange-bedfellow” story, at least for me, is the revelation that Apple CEO and anti-porn crusader Steve Jobs has found an unlikely ally in his war against Adobe Flash: the porn industry! As Apple followers know, Jobs has been waging a two-front battle in recent months: on the one hand, he has declared that his products are “free from porn” (even though they’re not), and on the other he has derided Adobe’s Flash – which is used by many, many websites to display video and other multimedia features – as faulty software who’s days are numbered. Jobs is instead favouring HTML 5, a new-ish web standard that is apparently much more efficient in handling video and multimedia.

While the lack of Flash on Apple’s mobile products, including the iPhone and iPad, are a cause of consternation for many (count me among them), Jobs has just received some surprising support. In an interview with ConceivablyTech, Ali Joone – owner and founder of Digital Playground, one of the bigger U.S. porn companies – says he agrees with Jobs. “HTML 5 is the future,” says Joone. “Mobile browsers run HTML 5 very well. Flash brings everything to a crawl and has an impact on battery life. With HTML 5, there is no reason to show our content in Flash.”

Joone says his company is simply waiting for web browsers to catch up with their HTML 5 capability, and as soon as it happens, he’s ditching Flash. It’s “just a matter of time … it’s the next passing of the torch.”

It should be noted that Digital Playground is not alone in this position. YouPorn, perhaps the king of the free adult YouTube clones, recently announced that it was converting to HTML 5 in order to be compatible with Apple products. These tube sites, detested by traditional companies such as Digital Playground for basically sucking their revenue dry, wield an enormous amount of clout in such matters because of their massive traffic.

The ramifications of all this are obvious, and what’s going on here is amazing to technology watchers. Firstly, Apple is looking to change the technology used to display giant portions of web to one of its liking, while at the same time trying to disinclude porn from the equation. But while the mainstream debates the merits of Flash versus HTML 5, porn producers are getting right to the point: they are following Apple and the millions of eyeballs glued to the company’s products. It’s a safe bet that once again, the adult companies will end up deciding this particular format war. So, Apple and the porn companies are essentially redefining the web together. Is Steve Jobs happy for the support, or livid about where it’s coming from? Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the Jobs’ household (would that make one an iFly?).

As ConceivablyTech puts it, this situation is not unlike the often-cited VCR format war. While the mainstream quibbled over that technology, the adult companies dove right in and decided the winner, VHS, for them. However, I think that website is mistaken in saying that porn ended up deciding the recent Blu-ray versus HD-DVD format war. According to ConceivablyTech, porn was instrumental because Sony’s Blu-ray-equipped PlayStation 3 indirectly promoted sales of adult videos.

It was quite the opposite actually – Sony was reluctant to license the Blu-ray technology for use by adult companies, so they were naturally starting to gravitate toward HD-DVD. If nature had been allowed to take its course, HD-DVD may have in fact won out because of the support from porn. Blu-ray ended winning and no one’s really sure why – my theory is that Sony forked out enough payola to movie studios to get them to switch.

If HTML 5 does end up winning out over Flash, historians may look back on this and find that once again, porn companies provided the early support for a particular technology. It’s a truism, especially to me, that seems to spell doom for Flash.

(The obvious fun with Photoshop above, of Smooth Stevie J and Digital Playground star Jesse Jane, courtesy of yours truly)

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Posted by on June 30, 2010 in apple, digital playground, iphone, jesse jane, sex

 

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