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Will anyone pay for a nudity-free Playboy iPhone app?
People claim to read the seminal "men's magazine" for the articles. Thanks to Apple's porn ban, we may soon find out how many actually do
 
Really, what would be the point?
Really, what would be the point? Illustration by Lauren Hansen, CC BY: avhell, Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post

Playboy is releasing an app for the iPhone, and it will be perfect for the people who "read Playboy for the articles, and not for nude pictures of famous bunnies," says John Stewart at The Slanted.

"This isn't to say that there aren't selected photos from the magazine's extensive history," Steward adds. There are, but this is clearly "more of a censored version" of Playboy, with a focus on the stories. And a good portion of the articles and PG-13 pictorials won't be free: You can subscribe for $2 a month, $11 for six months, or $20 a year.

Why would Playboy drop its hallmark nudity for what it describes as "Playboy 2.0"? Apple doesn't allow naked women in its App Store. "The app respectfully follows Apple's content standards and therefore does not feature nudity," a Playboy spokesman tells The Los Angeles Times. "There are still pictorials — they just leave a little more to the imagination."

Kudos to Playboy for finding a way to coexist with Apple's "freedom from porn," as former CEO Steve Jobs once proclaimed, says Kevin Bostic at Apple Insider. But that doesn't change the fact that Hugh Hefner's flagship publication "has for more than half a century made its money pushing pictures of scantily clad and nude women." Will anyone pay $2 a month to read lifestyle articles and ogle pictures to the chaste side of Victoria's Secret?

Playboy thinks so, and it's fashioning the iPhone app "to attract the new generation of Gen Y fans who enjoy the indulgences of the artisanal good life and modern culture," in the words of Playboy Entertainment CEO Scott Flanders. It takes a lot of chutzpah to charge people to read the "deeper thoughts" of celebrities and models, says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET News. But "is there a soupçon of a suggestion in those words that the younger generations are more interested in food than sex?" That's not a rhetorical question, he adds, noting the focus on the "hookup culture" prevalent among today's youths.

Indeed, it seems that the rather transactional nature of the modern sexual experience tends to make it not much of an experience. It's more akin to two high schoolers having a quick cigarette behind the chemistry building. Might the content of Playboy's new app — though foisted upon it by the moral colonels of Cupertino — actually reflect a genuinely altering attitude toward sex and therefore toward the Playboy brand? [CNET]

As Jobs quipped in 2010, "folks who want porn can buy an Android phone." But in the case of Playboy, that may not be true. Playboy says the iPhone app will be the model for an upcoming Android smartphone app, and "I wouldn't expect them to go more risqué," says tech analyst Chris Silva at the Altimeter Group. Going nudity-free is a pretty big leap, but "the migration to digital makes sense" for Playboy and other magazines, says Mike Snider at USA Today.

Half of all U.S. adults have smartphones now and 205 million will have them by 2016, research firm Forrester estimates. And tablets are on the same adoption curve, with about 34 million owning tablets now and 113 million tablet owners expected by 2016.... As publishers attempt to define and fine-tune their digital strategy, "folks are throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks," [Altimeter's Silva] says. [USA Today]

So let's take a moment to "admire Playboy's post-modern confidence in launching a new iPhone app that seems to have decided that nudity is anything but new," says CNET's Matyszczyk. Besides, it's not like the iPhone doesn't have a fully functional, uncensored portal to the web, says Michael Briggs at Design & Trend. "For those looking for bare-all bunnies, you better stick to your internet browser."

 
Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

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