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Sony to Allow Porn on the Playstation Portable.

Forget Final Fantasy -- the real killer app for Sony's new PlayStation Portable handheld could be a different kind of fantasy altogether.

Two Japanese publishers of adult DVD video have announced plans to release a selection of their top titles on Sony's Universal Media Disc, or UMD, format, which is currently supported exclusively by the PSP, next month. These aren't shady gray-market items: The eight video discs will be officially licensed by Sony and carry the PSP logo on the package.

Don't laugh. If Sony truly wants UMD to become the standard in portable media storage, adult videos could be a big help.

The videos, published by hmp and Glay'z (explicit adult content), will debut next month. Prices range from 1,925 to 3,800 yen (about $18 to $35). Though other UMD videos have been region-coded, the back-of-the-package artwork for the Glay'z videos suggests that they will work in any PSP machine regardless of region.

Since the PSP's Japanese launch last December, about 15 UMD videos have been released, with content ranging from feature films like Spider-Man 2 to music videos and episodes of animation. Over the next two months, the release schedule (in Japanese) will ramp up considerably, with episodes from the giant-robot animation series Gundam as well as feature films like Kung Fu Hustle and Starsky and Hutch.

Not to mention Big-Breasted Nurse Mitsu Amai. And Anna Kaneshiro: High-Class Soap Mistress. Or Lolita Pick-Up Special 5. The videos cover a wide variety of fetishes, from schoolgirls to bondage to nurses to "massage parlors" (for which "soap" is the not-so-secret Japanese code word).

Though the pursuit of the adult video market might seem odd, it's often the path to success for a new media format. Porn has traditionally been a big draw for early adopters and mass-market acceptance. A November 1996 essay in an Indiana University School of Law publication found this to be true -- and in the process illustrated how Sony was once on the losing end of the porn-tech curve.

When home video recorders were the next big thing, the VHS format won out over Sony's higher-quality Betamax. Why? Because the adult film industry embraced VHS. Some say Sony refused to license the technology to pornographers, but the more likely explanation is that the one-hour recording time of the Betamax tapes wasn't long enough for feature films of any nature.

The DVD format benefited from porn, too -- this time because of the ability to skip scenes, jumping past all the (assuredly Shakespearian) dialogue and going directly to the good parts. And because the success of Sony's PlayStation 2 is greatly attributed to the fact that it was by far the cheapest DVD player in Japan when it launched in 2000, that means the PS2 also has the massive Japanese adult video market to thank, at least in part, for its dominance.

But VHS and DVD are viewed in the privacy of one's own home. Will handheld porn on the go be acceptable? In some ways, it already is -- the exec squeezed up next to you on the Tokyo subway is just as likely to be reading a sexually explicit comic book as he is a financial newspaper. It's also not uncommon to find arcade games in public places that feature pornographic video clips (as a reward for beating the computer at mah-jongg, for example).

Posted by Wired News on June 09.

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