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Playboy.com: An iBod for You!

Playboy.com says it wants to "put the sexiest girls next door in the palm of your hand" with two new photo galleries available on its site.

On Tuesday, it announced plans to develop regular digital photo content especially for handheld media devices. Its initial "iBod" gallery features 25 free downloadable images from Playboy's archives of scantily clad models. Paid subscribers to the Playboy Cyber Club can download additional photos of nude women, also from the archives.

The downloadable photos have been optimized for Apple Computer's iPod photo devices with color screens that can be connected to TVs or computer monitors. The iPod photo product line was released in October 2004, and the original iBod feature was posted on Playboy.com mid-December.

"There's a major push to do stuff for [the iPod photo], as well as any other kind of device like this," said John D. Thomas, editor of Playboy.com. Playboy has no relationship to Apple, he said, but the company wanted to be part of "this cool phenomenon exemplified by iPod photo."

While the original iBod feature uses shots from the archives that could be cropped and edited to look good on the small screen, Thomas said that he plans to shoot original content especially for the iPod and other music devices; he also plans to provide music associated with the galleries.

An icon linking to the photo gallery has placement on the Playboy.com front page, along with other photo features. The graphic plays off Apple's iconic ad campaign, with the black silhouette of a woman, apparently wearing nothing but an iPod, against a blue background.

A Playboy.com spokeswoman said the company isn't worried about hearing from Apple's trademark attack dogs because iBod is an editorial feature, not a service or product. Apple did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The venerable dot-com, which was founded in 1994 and has been profitable since 2002, plans more technology innovations in 2005. In December, it inked a deal with Durango Wireless to provide Playboy-branded content on-demand to a potential audience of 170 million North American wireless subscribers. Durango will offer custom content including Playboy-themed games, images, video clips, voice clips and ring tones. Playboy was something of a mobile content pioneer, and it's offering wireless entertainment services through licensees in 17 countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil.

On January 25, Playboy will ship its first video game, Playboy: The Mansion. In the first-person, M-rated game, available for PS/2, Xbox and PCs, players assume the role of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner as they build his empire. They start with a small group of friends and need to connect with better-known celebs. Animated versions of celebrities include Carmen Electra, Tom Arnold, David Copperfield and Jose Canseco make appearances, and the sound track comes from recording artists including Sum 41, Petey Pablo and DJ Felix da House Cat.

Players must complete missions including putting out the first issue of the magazine and persuading some of the 140 digital Playmates to pose for its cover.

Said Thomas about the opportunities to extend the Playboy brand into new media and devices, "You'd have to be foolish not to think that people aren't just scratching the surface."