Without doubt, information technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in Kenya, with virtually all other sectors adopting elements of it to take operations to the next level. There however exists a dark side on the internet and mobile content front that many do not talk about, but that has spawned a sub sector of its own with revenues growing exponentially and thereby attracting a growing number of players. This industry is that of adult content.
A simple search on Google Trends – a service that gives insights into broad search patterns reveals that increasingly people are searching for adult oriented content online. This trend is also replicated on the mobile front but with larger numbers due to the privacy that the mobile device offers and the increased data speeds that allow for quick access to multimedia content, which is the preferred content format in this genre.
Globally, this is a billion dollar industry that even the economic downturn does not seem to dent. There is a lot of free adult content online but industry players globally are experiencing high returns per user on premium services. This has been on the back of easy access to multiple payment options that include anonymous billing and active marketing.
For mobile network operators, this presents a catch 22 proposition. Locally for example, dealing in adult content in print or audio visual format is illegal and there would be repercussions if a mobile operator is seen to endorse it or actively capitalize on it. But at the same time, this very same content drives data revenue, and the operators can simply act as a dump pipe and channel whatever content the end user wants and bill them for the privilege.
In some countries such as Indonesia and Singapore, the government has tightened the laws governing access to adult mobile content in a bid to control what would be termed societal moral decay. On the other hand in markets such as Latin America and Europe, adult content portals are becoming more of a norm.
Where there is demand, there is sure to be supply and innovation around supporting services. Whether you consume the content or not, it will be interesting to see how this particular vertical develops in Kenya and in Africa at large.
Will it be censured? Will it be allowed to run free? What attitude will the mobile operators adopt?