Phone Sex: Is What's Old New Again?
LOS ANGELES — To no one’s real surprise, a recent report by U.K.-based Juniper Research found that the porn business is expected to experience healthy growth in the next five years, especially in the areas of webcam and video chat. But one maverick company has gone old school and launched a new service that harkens back to the '80’s and ‘90’s — phone sex.
Avenue 72’s upstart platform allows consumers to have "erotic conversations" without restrictions on location whether on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone via VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology.
Certainly not a new breakthrough technology but one that the founders nevertheless believe has been ignored by the adult industry and still has major potential for profit.
XBIZ wanted to know more about the company and its plans and sat down with business manager Moriam Balogun who says her service offers sensual, erotic experiences and removes the stigma attached to phone sex. She says words are powerful especially where sex is concerned. The company is especially targeting women, and even offering a free e-book about phone sex — possibly the keys to what makes what was old new again.
XBIZ: How did the idea for a phone sex business materialize in a world with so much new technology?
Balogun: We feel that phone sex lags behind the technological developments on the Internet and we wanted to do something about that. We Skype, we use Whatsapp, we send photos via Instagram, etc. We also observed the continual growth pattern within the adult entertainment industry, including video, galleries, and virtual sites. Most firms were innovating and integrating technology into their adult businesses. The same level of innovation was not appearing in the phone sex world. It didn’t make sense to us. If innovation and quality is important to adult video consumers, then innovation and quality will be important for phone sex consumers too. Keeping up with the needs and wishes of today’s customers means offering something they need and want in a form that is convenient.
XBIZ: How long has the service been in operation. Where did it start?
Balogun: We spent a good part of the last three years researching the technical aspect of the site. We needed to ensure the site worked well so that the client could experience a seamless connection and service. In December, 2014 we soft launched, offering our service in the U.S. only. Starting this month, Avenue 72 is available in the U.S., Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia.
XBIZ: Isn’t your service simply regular phone sex available on all types of technical devices?
Balogun: Phone sex is indeed just that — phone sex. It’s the basic structure of the business. However, we wanted to make phone sex more convenient and more accessible for our clients. Avenue72 allows a user to use a computer, tablet and more. It’s widely available on almost any device.
XBIZ: Why would people use phone sex when they can interact in chat rooms and webcam shows?
Balogun: Not to be too philosophical, but there’s a saying which goes 'Eyes can only capture objects that are already seen in mind. And mind can only see things that already are written in heart.' In other words, if you want incredible phone sex, beyond what our eyes can see, then you have to use your mind or imagination to create it. When a client is in a video chat, all is visible to see. There is little left to the imagination and you either like it or leave it. In a chat room where clients have to type, you miss voice, emotion and all the nuances. It becomes static and cold and that is not what phone sex is about. When you only have voice and mind the imaginary world is limitless.
XBIZ: You hope to target women with your service. What's the reason for this strategy?
Balogun: We are indeed also targeting women with Avenue 72. We've seen a rise in the amount of female consumers of erotic content grow quite a bit the last few years. It isn't only because of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ although the book series certainly made the subject easier to talk about. It's also because women want adult services that take their needs into account. There is a loyal market out there but you first have to understand what their needs and how they differ from their male counterparts in order to service them. It’s not the same type of product as for men, and we see this already in porn and ‘porna,’ for example. All women want to feel special, beautiful and receive attention in love and sex. Words are powerful and this is something where phone sex can excel in. We hope to be able to provide this to them through our male operators on the site and our blogs and planned (video) guides.
XBIZ: Please explain your comment that the industry is lagging behind the digital revolution.
Balogun: In our opinion, it’s not so much the adult 'industry' but specifically the 'phone sex industry' which is lagging, in terms of technology and design. As I mentioned earlier, video content producers are innovating but phone sex businesses don’t seem to realize that people are mobile and not often in one place. We don’t sit by the telephone all day, for example. Many of us do not even own a television with so many on-demand video options. However, we do have smartphones, iPads and tablets and are constantly on the move. We may be in the U.S. on Monday, Canada on Tuesday and the United Kingdom on Friday. How many phone sex companies are there right now, where you can call your favorite operator without having to dial an international number and incur the high costs? How many phone sex companies are there where you don’t have to be at one location, or at one computer or on one specific device to use the service? We feel Avenue 72 provides the opportunity to experience phone sex with freedom.
XBIZ: Are the people listed on your site who answer calls professionals or everyday people?
Balogun: Our team is made up of everyday professionals like you and I. They enjoy phone sex, have experience in the field and understand the how to create genuine phone sex relationships with their callers.
XBIZ: Do members pay per-minute like traditional phone sex?
Balogun: Members currently have the option to pay per-minute. The only difference is you only pay for what you use and you add a credit amount yourself which never expires.
XBIZ: Explain the “operator” positions.
Balogun: Our operators are people who have an affinity with phone sex either through experience or talent. They are great listeners and passionate talkers. Each operator has a specific expertise, for example, a lingerie fetish — and our members are provided with an operator/chat partner, who can fulfill his or her needs. We screen each operator ourselves. Our operator selection procedure includes personal interviews as well as a company presentation, which explains what type of company we are and what the objective of our service is. There has to be a match not only for us but for our members also.
XBIZ: Who do you feel are your main competitors?
Balogun: Technologically speaking we don’t have a huge amount of competitors, but for phone sex in general, our main competitors would be companies like Niteflirt and Talktome.
XBIZ: Are you planning to expand into video chat?
Balogun: At this stage, all we can say is ‘never say never.’ Video technology is developing at a rapid rate. If video is something that can contribute and benefit our members and our service then it’s something that we’ll definitely consider in the future. Right at this moment, however, our goal is to be the premiere phone sex property in the world. We’re hopeful that the community will give us an opportunity to earn that trust.