Online dating now has mobile apps

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by Erica Heartquist

KREM.com

Posted on May 4, 2012 at 4:19 PM

PORTLAND -- Online dating is no longer just sitting behind your computer with a glass of wine after work.  Now, you can do it wherever you are.

More and more singles are turning to their smartphones, hoping mobile dating apps they're downloading will help find their true love.

The mobile apps aren't just the buzz among the single community, they seem to be the latest trend in a $2 billion online dating industry.

"For them, just being right there like, 'hey, you want to chat?' That would be a good way for me," said Francis Hensley, a student at Portland State University.

Hensley and fellow classmate Brianna Nichols agreed that they would try something like that.

"The best thing about having a mobile app for it is, it's when you have time for it. So if you're at a bar and you're out and you're, like, "Oh, okay, this conversation's boring," I'll be, like, "Okay, let's scroll through and see," said a woman who only gave her first name, Alicia.

What she was scrolling through were mobile dating profiles on the free app called "Skout." It's one of dozens being used by more than 14 million daters across the country.

"Roughly half our users are using it for flirting and dating and you know, checking out who's around," said Christian Wiklund, who launched Skout five years ago.

His app and many others use GPS technology to connect users to other mobile daters nearby.

"I think we're just seeing the first phases of this with some of the apps that we've seen. It's really, really going to explode here in the next couple of years," said Scott Kveton.

Kveton launched the push notification company "Urban Airship" in Portland three years ago. He believes this way of meeting up is the wave of the future.

"I've even seen apps where you can kind of say, 'Hey! I'm available and my criteria is this,' and as the evening wears on, you can sort of lower your expectations," he laughed.

"Because maybe, say, you've had more to drink or whatever," he laughed. "No really though, it's amazing what people have been able to do with these apps."

Not everyone we talked to was on board.

"Just shake hands. I mean, I go to school, I meet people all day long. There's a thousand people just right here. Why do we need an app?" said PSU student, Alexis Plank.

It might be because as mobile dating catches on, mobile dating companies are cashing in. "I would definitely do it," said Francis Hensley.

Mobile dating apps generated more than $200 million in revenue in 2011. They're expected to climb to nearly half a billion dollars by 2016.

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