A Less-Mentioned Effect of the iPhone’s Success: Searches for Porn

Google Trends graph of searches for Porn, compared with searches for iPhones to show the release and growing popularity of the product
Google Trends graph of searches for Porn, compared with searches for iPhones to show how the release and growing popularity of the product has been mirrored by a boom in the pornographic industry

By Daniel O’Boyle

Apple’s iPhone has surely been the most iconic piece of technology of the last 10 years. Enough has been said about its huge sales and its influence on the smartphone market in general as well as allowing for serious changes in businesses such as taxis and music. Yet there are some other industries which were impacted heavily by the device, yet gained less attention.

One of those areas is the online pornography industry.

To put it simply, the iPhone, as well as other similar smartphones, provides viewers of pornography with an extra device for viewers. Yet the extent to which the popularity of Apple’s product seems to be connected to rises in searches for pornography may be stronger than expected.

Searches for porn were rising at an extremely slow pace prior to the iPhone’s 2007 release. However, soon after the original iPhone launch (the second small red spike in the graph), increases in searches sped up significantly. As Apple introduced updated models, sharp increases in pornography searches often followed quickly, most notably with the release of the iPhone 4 in June 2010, showing that it appears to be Apple’s product itself and not rival smartphones that can claim the most credit for the increased pornography viewership.

In recent times, however, both search queries have stalled. iPhone searches only increase briefly after new releases, with no sustained effect, suggesting a lack of new customers. Pornography searches, meanwhile, appear to have peaked.  The overall theme of both searches plateauing at around the same point in late 2012 is further evidence that major technological changes can have effects on unexpected industries, including pornography. The major development of the next 10 years may well have similar effects.

 

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