If what is on open display in this city, home this week to an annual gathering of the world’s cellphone companies and services providers, is any indication of what is to come, mobile adult content is likely to be a big issue for India.
For executives, including many from the Indian cellphone industry, gathered at the 3GSM World Congress, it isn’t a question any more of whether cellphone users will use their phones to download video and games. Or, whether they will use their phones to find a local restaurant or watch television. Or, for that matter, download adult content. The question is how soon.
Content providers here say they have already signed up two operators from India on whose sites images from the Kamasutra are now sold on the sly.
Brickhouse Mobile.com said it had currently signed up to offer adult content to two cellphone operators in India, Hutch and Idea. Eight-year-old Brickhouse Mobile is one of the largest adult content providers for mobile handsets and its website estimates that the adult content for mobile industry will be a $2-billion annual business worldwide.
Blake Faying, founder-partner of the company, said: “We provide five types of adult content that can be categorized as semi-nude, topless, nude, activities that look like adults performing an act but not the act, then the full act.
“It is for the carrier to decide what and how they would like to offer.”
Faying, who runs the company from the US, does note that not all adult content can be offered on cellphones in some countries.
But he adds that some phone companies have reported that more than 70% of downloadable content is meant for adults.
Operators in India have typically said they will offer whatever content their customers demand, if the technology permits distributing such content.
But the issue is likely to raise questions in India on where the balance needs to be struck in terms of moral policing, consumer choice and the commercial interests of cellphoneoperators.
Says T.V. Ramchandran, director-general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, who is here to attend the 3GSM World Congress: “In the short-term, there will be challenges in offering adult content, but it would be difficult if operators universally are offering such content.”