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Online Dating Is Now Geolocated
Posted on June 12th 2012
Forty million Americans and 140 million Chinese have used online dating at some point in their lives. These impressive results come from a survey carried out by Online Schools which is based on data from several sources, including Reuters and The Washington Post.
The online dating business is now worth more than one billion dollars (£651,100) with mobile apps accounting for more than half of the market.
Meeting your date online is no longer considered weird, or something that losers do. It's actually more common now than hooking up with a complete stranger in a bar.
Online dating has been around for a long time, and is now going through changes and implementations which have been made possible by the technological advancements of the past few years.
The most remarkable one is the addition of the so-called “geolocation features” which allow users to communicate their current location and inform them of the location of other users. The idea behind this new concept in online dating services is that most users would rather meet someone who lives locally rather than someone who has to travel a great distance just to have dinner with them. Moreover, it can create an opportunity for last minute encounters while out in the city centre or on your way back from work.
At the cutting edge of this exciting new feature are some more recent platforms such as the dating-social network Badoo and OKCupid, a free dating website and an app as well. Badoo, a platform which is not only about dating but also about meeting new people and making friends, invites its members to “Find out who's near you! “ through its application for mobile phones.
The app uses a location tracking system which enables you to search for other members in the vicinity. It is an interesting switch from the idea of meeting people on the basis of common interests to meeting people who live in your area. Of course nothing prevents you from finding users who, besides living nearby, also share some of your interests.
As mentioned above, another major player in this new geolocated online dating market, is the app OKCupid. It works this way: every time someone sends you a message, the app lets you see his/her profile, tells you if he/she is online and where he/she is. Moreover, and this is the most innovative feature, the system searches for people who are currently in the same area and sends them suggestions for instant dates.
This is undoubtedly something which could scare some users but many others would definitely get a kick out of it.
Not all the online dating platforms have embraced this geocalization innovation which derives from the diffusion of Foursquare, the app that lets you check in anywhere you go.
Some of the biggest names in the industry, Match.com, eHarmony, Chemistry.com and PerfetcMatch.com, whose services you have to pay for, have developed their apps as well but, as yet, without geocalization functions.
The same applies to the main free platforms, such as Tagged and Plenty of Fish, with 40 million users.The main reason is that they feel their users wouldn't appreciate a date on short notice because this wouldn't give them time to get dressed up. Besides, there's also a safety issue. What if a user turned out to be a stalker?
Whatever problems there could be, there is no doubt that nowadays 50% or more of online dating is done via mobile phones, so geocalization would seem to be such a winner that it is quite unlikely that users would turn their back on it. In all likelihood the safety settings of these dating apps would allow users to easily transmit their location only to a pre-selected number of users, so reducing risks to a minimum.