Sex Tech News: $1.2Bn Lovehoney Group Merger, China’s AI Chatbot Market, YNOT Cam Noms & Apple Privacy
Top news and upcoming events in the sex tech and adult industries.
“Two well-known names in sex tech, WOW Tech Group and Lovehoney, have joined forces and merged into the Lovehoney Group. Previously headquartered in Germany and the United Kingdom respectively, the new company will operate across Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America, in 10 offices.
“The Lovehoney Group predicts revenue of at least $400 million in 2021, with CEO Johannes Plettenberg at the helm. The Wall Street Journal reported the merger deal as valued at $1.2 billion. Lovehoney Group also cited a 26% increase in sales between 2019 and 2020 due to higher demand for adult products during COVID-19 lockdowns.” (via Future of Sex)
- WhatsApp and privacy experts continue to sound alarm about Apple's controversial new iPhone-scanning feature.
“The tool is intended to detect child sexual abuse material, by looking through users’ messages and photos. If it does find such images, it will alert authorities. Apple has said that all of that is done in a way that protects privacy, by doing the analysis on a users’ phone and not allowing Apple to see those photos unless the iOS software determines it to be sufficiently similar to an image on a database of child abuse imagery.
“But critics say the feature undermines the security of those photos and contradicts Apple’s longstanding commitment to privacy. Many of those critics argue that while the aim of finding and preventing child sexual abuse material is noble, the system could weaken security more broadly.” (via Andrew/Griffin/Independent)
“China’s young adults are coping with social anxiety and loneliness in a digital-native way: through virtual love. Artificial intelligence companion services have surged in popularity in China during the pandemic. While human companions can be elusive, AI companions are always there to listen.
“AI chatbots are now a $420 million market in China. Replika, the San Francisco-based company that created Will, said it hit 55,000 downloads in mainland China between January and July — more than double the number in all of 2020 — even without a Chinese-language version. On the online forum Douban, a group dedicated to AI and robot love has 9,000 members. A popular Web series features two women and four AI boyfriends.” (via The Washington Post)
“YNOT Events has officially started the nomination process for the 2021 YNOT Cam Awards, which returns live and in-person to Hollywood on October 14th. Platinum sponsors for this year’s show are sold out and include Chaturbate, iWantClips, LiveJasmin and BranditScan.
“Cam fans and industry professionals can suggest their favorite cam models and creators for up to three award categories, but all suggestions must be received by YNOT and accepted by the suggested model no later than 11:59pm PDT on Friday, August 27th. To suggest a model for a nomination, visit awards.ynotcam.com/suggest. The nominee suggestion process is explained in detail on the YNOT Cam Awards website.” (via YNOT)