Online dating on the go: Apps shake up traditional dating websites
Why users have fallen in love with online-dating apps.
For many people, dating was once about love at first sight. But now, with the creation of dating apps for smart phones, itâs become easier for people to fall in love at first tap.
Tap of the phone, that is.
âApps are the new rage,â says Julie Spira, a leading onlineÂ datingÂ expert and author of âThe Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love.â
Ms. Spira, who has made a career out of helping singles improve their online profiles, says apps such as Tinder are âpopping up everywhere.â
âItâs like a game,â she says. âItâs a fun and easy way to meet someone really on the fly, same day and same night.â
Roughly 40 million people in the United States use some form of digitalÂ dating, according to onlineÂ datingÂ site Match.com.
Tinder, which launched in October, is a free anonymousÂ datingÂ app that âmatchesâ people with other users within a 30-mile radius based on mutual interest and mutual Facebook friends.
Alexa Mateen, the social media director at Tinder, says the beauty of Tinder is that it is âkind of a second chance to meet people you wouldnât naturally meet.â
âThereâs nothing too binding about it,â says Ms. Mateen. âWhatâs scary about other websites is people were afraid and embarrassed to be on it.â
From friendships to relationships, Tinder is whatever people want it to be, she says. The app shows users other users who are interested and then itâs up to them to make the virtualÂ first move.
This type ofÂ datingÂ is increasingly becoming norm.
âThereâs something beautiful about meeting someone without any technology,â Ms. Mateen says. âBut at this point I think [digitalÂ dating] is the closest thing to meeting someone naturally.â
Online dating is one of the ten industries that will be affected by smart phones the most, according to market research groupÂ IBISWorld.Â
In 2011, âAmericans spent a greater share of time on mobileÂ datingÂ apps than they did onÂ datingÂ websites,â according to the report.Â âToday, the vast majority of online dating companies have a mobile app.... the advent of this location-based feature is enabling users to take advantage of proximity and convenience and facilitate real-life meetings.â
IBISWorld found that mobile-datingÂ revenue grew by 29 percent in 2012. And the market is expected to double to more than $415.3 million by 2017.
So what does this mean for onlineÂ datingÂ websites? While the traditional sites have always been around,Â datingÂ apps have caused these sites to change or expand their platforms.
Marc Lesnick, the founder of iDate, an annual trade show for the onlineÂ datingÂ industry, called apps a âdisrupterâ to traditional onlineÂ datingÂ sites.
âDigitalÂ datingÂ is heading in a million different directions,â he says. âMy philosophy is the following: If youâre an onlineÂ datingÂ site and donât have a mobileÂ datingÂ app or a mobile version by about this time next year, you will be out of business.â
Balazs Alexa, the co-founder of website Date My School, wrote in an e-mail interview that new apps are âindeed a threat but usually profitable and large incumbents can defend themselves easily.â
âAlso, onlineÂ datingÂ is not like the auto market: every user may be a member of several platforms at the same time or shortly one after the other â we call that âmulti homing.â So competition is a little different from traditional industries,â he says.
Date My School, an onlineÂ datingÂ site for students and alumni from different schools, plans on creating its own app in the near future, according its website.
Mr. Alexa says his company hopes to âshake this status quoâ with a cooler, safer, more private, and more efficient way ofÂ dating.
âIt's all about the ability to learn and the willingness to change: innovation spreads always faster with young people,â he added.