.xxx to launch porn search engine

Search.xxx is intended to give porn fans a streamlined, private search experience

The company behind the .xxx top-level domain plans to launch a search engine in an effort to drive more traffic to .xxx websites and give pornography fans a more satisfying search experience.

ICM Registry, which operates the 9-month-old .xxx TLD, is scheduled to launch Search.xxx on Thursday, said Stuart Lawley, ICM's CEO. The new search engine will give users a more streamlined searching process, help protect them from viruses and malware and help guard their privacy, he said.

The search engine has cataloged 21 million webpages from .xxx sites, he said. "It's porn, only porn, all porn," he said. "There's as much porn there as anyone would need, I'd imagine."

Lawley touted Search.xxx because the .xxx TLD scans each website there for viruses and malware every day using McAfee security products. Some porn websites on other TLDs have been notorious for infecting users' computers with malware.

In addition, Google, in recent algorithm changes to its search engine, has ranked many porn sites lower, with some porn sites falling off the first page of results in favor of pages with definitions of sex terms or news articles, Lawley said. "Google, in their wisdom, has decided that's more relevant to what their customers are looking for," he said. "The adult industry is feeling a little bit deranked by the major search engines."

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The search engine may also protect users' privacy, he said. Some Web browsers, including Chrome and Safari, are integrating search into the address bar field, and autocompleting the results based on a user's past browsing history. That could be a problem for a porn fan when someone is looking over his shoulder, Lawley said.

"Porn is very personal," he said. "You may have been looking for Brazilian midget transsexuals, and you're sitting there at home with your kid or your wife saying, 'Let's go on a holiday to Brazil,' and the next thing, it's suggesting Brazilian midget transsexuals from your previous Google search history."

ICM's goal is to provide a clean and quick search experience, he added. One group of free porn video sites on .com offer "an absolute assault on your senses," he said, with pop-under webcam services, large ads on the main page, multiple videos running, and sometimes, chat services starting up.

"A lot of customers found that they were so overwhelmed by what they were seeing, they just sort of snatched and grabbed any video that was there to get away from this madness," he said. "We have no ads, no videos, nothing on the search engine itself, so people can take a sort of calm and steady look at deciding what it is they want to select."

After searchers find what they're looking for and click through to an adult site, "then, yes, the assault on your senses will begin," Lawley said.

ICM promised a search engine when it received permission to launch the .xxx TLD. The top-level domain has 240,000 names registered since it launched last December. About 80,000 of those are defensive registrations to protect trademarks, Lawley said.

The company's original forecast in its 2004 application to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the .xxx TLD had 125,000 names registered in the first five years of .xxx, Lawley said.

ICM plans to launch a micropayments system early next year, in an effort to combat porn piracy, Lawley said. Paying US$30 for a monthly subscription to a porn website is "yesterday's business model," he said. "Even Netflix is only $7.99 a month."

The micropayments service will allow customers to pay less than $2 for a single video clip, similar to iTunes, he said. People want to buy smaller amounts of porn from multiple sources, he said.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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