Mobile Dating Sucks

At Idate lots of companies where trying to sell mobile dating,  but every owner I talked to said thought mobile dating was a joke and would never amount to much.    The basic problem is that there is no such thing as mobile dating.  Sure you can put up profiles and make it look like a dating site  but no one actually uses it.    People who use “mobile dating”  are  mostly under the age of 24  and are looking to chat with others.  Mobile dating as it stands today is nothing more then a chat line, and most of the  mobile “dating” users don’t even have computers.    Online daters on the other hand are between ages 30 and 40 and are looking for longer messages and serious conversations.   Mobile daters are mostly looking to kill time and to chat for entertainment.

When trying to create a mobile dating site your existing brand is meaningless,  the only thing that matters is being on deck at a carrier as it is the only way to get users.  It is strange that all these mobile companies are pitching mobile dating as an extension of online dating.  They all know full well and admit in private that “mobile dating” and online dating are completely different markets with different demographics that don’t overlap.

47 Responses to “Mobile Dating Sucks”

  1. Nicolas Toper Says:

    About mobile application, in a more general way, you are right: the two markets don’t overlap and being referenced by carriers is for now the only way to get traffic.

    But… What you describe looks alot like Internet in the 90s during AOL/CompuServe days. Right now, mobile applications have only early adopters but it should change soon and will change soon since all the big players invest heavily in mobile (terminal manufucturer build bigger and better screen, application developers are building better apps, carriers are trying to maintain their reach).

    The current situation is actually not sustainable and major Internet players are trying to leverage it bypassing when possible carriers.

    Right now, mobile is not profitable for ISV (unless being really friendly with carriers), but when this will change, you should be ready. Thus the current investment strategy of companies.

    It explains also why small (meaning unbacked by VC) startups unless highly technical and positionned cannot really get a grip on that market for now.

  2. Andrew Johnson Says:

    When it comes to handheld devices I am hands off, so my knowledge is pretty limited from a user standpoint. I’ve seen a handful of college-age girls who can not stop sending text messages on their phones. In ten years they will be in their early 30s. Could the demographic shift inch upward?

    Mobile dating might suck today, but does that make it a complete write off?

  3. Online dating » Mobile Dating Sucks Says:

    […] THE PARADIGM SHIFT — Sep 28 — At the European iDate lots of companies where trying to sell mobile dating, but every owner I talked to said they thought mobile dating was a joke and would never amount to much. The basic problem is that there is no such thing as mobile dating. Sure you can put up profiles and make it look like a dating site but no one actually uses it. People who use "mobile dating" are mostly under the age of 24 and are looking to chat with others. Mobile dating as it stands today is nothing more then a chat line, and most of the  mobile "dating" users don’t even have computers. Online daters are age 30 to 40 and looking for longer messages and serious conversations. Mobile daters are mostly looking to kill time and to chat for entertainment. When trying to create a mobile dating site your existing brand is meaningless, the only thing that matters is being on deck at a carrier as it is the only way to get users. It is strange that all these mobile companies are pitching mobile dating as an extension of online dating. They all know full well and admit in private that "mobile dating" and online dating are completely different markets with different demographics that don’t overlap. FULL ARTICLE @ THE PARADIGM SHIFTMark Brooks: Markus cuts to the chase once more. That’s the situation right now. The moneymakers are flirty chat applications, but that’s because the mobile dating apps suck and are below critical mass. But, it’s going to change. Mobile dating will eventually overtake internet dating. Why?  Because mobile computing will eventually overtake fixed computer (PC/laptop) usage. Laptops will morph into palmtops and be unified with cell phones and mp3 players (time to invest in Apple ). I’m talking ten years out, but I see this as inevitable. Keyboardless voice activated sexy (a la Apple) palmtops will make mobile computing more compelling. Location based services and video dating will make mobile dating more compelling. A couple of mobile enabler services are working on video dating right now. Your comments please. […]

  4. Tomas Zeman Says:

    I agree with you Markus, mobile dating community is very different from internet dating community and both communities have completely different habits.
    But true is, there is a huge mobile dating demand out there. I know it from my own experience with mobile services we are providing to the mobile operators in our country. There are couple reasons for it, like: you don’t have access to your 19inch computer at home during the 15 minutes break at school, or during boring class at university, or you cannot visit from your work PC because you could be fired for it, etc.). My observations shows, that almost ANY mobile app, which allows sending messages between users, users will try to date in such an applications. One example: we used to be running world biggest mobile multiplayer board games server. We had a chat in all games like chess, reverse, connect4 etc… and 80% of users tried to date each other during their chat in games (sometimes it caused to funny situation), so they were playing chess and in the same time chatting with each other and trying to get a date.
    So I will use your favorites argument (I have just saw it at your discussion), I think you cannot talk about mobile dating just from iDate conference, while you are not running any mobile application at the moment. We are running some and see that people are trying to date no matter how hard it’s using the mobile chat.
    Anyway, it was a pleasure to meet you and have a chance to speak with you at iDate. I hope you had save journey back to home.

  5. Markus Says:

    I should refine the title to say MObile dating sucks for online dating sites.

    People are saying as mobile internet gets bigger and easier to use there will be 2 seperate internets, one for the desktop and one for the phone. I just can’t see this happening, at some point these will merge. Once people stop using the cell phone carrier deck they aren’t going to start remembering what sites are good on the cell and what sites are good on the desktop.

  6. full :: 1511 » The Mobile 2.0 dust - what will your company do and will you be left behind? Says:

    […] After reading a post from Markus at the Plenty of Fish blog of why mobile dating sucks, it dawned on me that we are at the convergence of an era in regard to mobile devices and internet applications as we currently know them. […]

  7. Fernando Ardenghi Says:

    Seems dating on the mobile is about having fun (easy to use and provide instant gratification!, more suitable for persons not older than 24) rather than developing long term relationships.

    As actual daters grow up, they will be more aware/conscious of loosing precious time, so I think they will fly to quality online dating sites, looking for quality contacts (compatible real persons), like “here you have a list of 48 persons most compatible in a 10 million database’s prospects; for dating or social networking”

    Kindest Regards,

    Fernando Ardenghi.
    Buenos Aires.

  8. Michele Huet Says:

    The video functions of mobile phones (there are already more 3G Video mobile subscribers – 5 million – in the UK than webcam owners) and the always on potential mean that mobile dating can make safety assurances that are infact highly valued by the more senior dating community.

    Not only is video a good way to meet for the first time but moderated mobile video calling between a community of members makes it impossible to:
    1) lie bout your looks or sex
    2) be outside of the country you claim to be in (good bye international scam artists)
    3) avoid tracing
    4) involve minors

  9. mobmash blog » Blog Archive » links for 2006-12-08 Says:

    […] Mobile Dating Sucks « The Paradigm Shift (tags: mobile applications social-networks) […]

  10. brain dancer Says:

    Has anyone yet compared the success rate of dating the old fashioned way, ten years ago, back before Internet personals were invented — and the new, improved Internet way?

    Are there any statistics that show a greater satisfaction with relationships, more stable and lasting marriages?

    Or has Internet dating actually eroded our ability to meet and relate?

    1. An endless stream of new prospects has made dates less precious, more expendable. It’s created what I call the “Hefty Bag” approach to dating. Dates are rapidly trashed (or recycled.) As if Internet dates somehow aren’t “real” people — so real feelings don’t matter.

    2. The anonymity of personal ads has created an explosion in “casual encounters,” “hookups” just for sex, “booty calls”, swinger ads and “NSA” affairs. Were people really into so much no strings attached sex ten years ago — before the Internet made it so anonymous and easy?

    3. Online dating has made infidelity a profitable business — 28% of the 40 million American adults who use Internet personals are actually married.

    4. Despite the proliferation in Internet dating services — few people seem to create sustainable relationships this way. Out of my wide circle of personal friends, I know only 4 couples who have met and married through personal ads. (And of those, one resulted in a divorce one year later.). Virtually all of my single friends use Internet personals — but very few of these people seem to make it past the first date with anyone.

    5. Internet personal ads are often blatantly dishonest. Every man I know who has tried Internet dating services complains that the majority of the photographs that women place are at least ten years old and that women about their age. (One guy I spoke with on the phone when I was screening prospective dates said, sarcastically, “Photoshop is a girl’s best friend.” Women complain that the men they meet are often married and looking for some side play–or recently separated, on the rebound and just looking for quick, casual sex — even though their ad states they’re single and “looking for a serious relationship”.

    6. The upside? Internet ads bring wonderful new friends into our lives who we might have never met otherwise — or put us in touch with people we already met before (“in the real world”) but somehow didn’t connect with. Internet ads also help people find “that needle in a haystack” — the one person in the world who can share a very narrow, political interest, religion, dietary preference, race, geographic region, kink or hobby.

  11. David Deangelo Fan Says:

    I’ve never really seen the attraction with mobile dating. Isn’t going out and meeting people face to face the best way to go about things?

    Maybe I’m just not moving with the times🙂

  12. How about harmony dating Says:

    Well, interesting view, be it suck or not! mobile dating is taking a small slice of the cake in online dating industry, there target market is the younger teens 15 to 20, where they are not shame to spend 50cents to involve with their social group and be in and talk about things.

  13. Hmmmm Says:

    I use a dating service which is available on my verizon phone. Most of the women are 30 something. I’m 32. Many are looking for a relationship, and some are willing to travel. Some are just looking for a little fun. There is currently no way to search by area which I first thought was a huge oversight, but actually prefer it, because there’s no way you’ll find enough people in your area. I actually had an eight month relationship with a fantastic, very hot woman who flew up to see me every two weeks. Honestly the service hasn’t provided anything that quality since, but I really only use it for fun, and who knows what could come out of it, given what has already happened. When I find an attractive woman, I like the quickness of it, the challenge of communicating with limited words, in a flash I have her number, and see a pic, maybe even see a little (or a lot) more.

    The point is that, at least in the case of the service I use, that it’s not the only method you use to meet women (or men). Like I said, I use it for fun, and currently I have a (local) girlfriend.

    Maybe mobile dating sucks right now if you expect it to be more than it is, but it absolutely will explode and improve. People LOVE their cell phones more than any other gadget…

  14. Timi Says:

    Your views are very interesting. In a sense it’s the same old story. Time and again people try to create mobile versions of online applications simply by copying the same functionality. It rarely works.

    Where I think there is a gap is that in the real world we still have no easy way to introduce ourselves to a stranger we fancy in a coffee shop. My personal view is that this is the role mobile dating should play. Because then people can rely on chemistry and body language.

    The idea is not to replace, or even extend, online dating. But to give daters a useful additional option.

    I see mobile dating services like Ice Brkr which let you send a friend request to someone you fancy in a bar as good examples of how mobile dating will develop. The concept is simple. If they like you they send a friendly reply and you can get together and chat.

  15. Ian Smith Says:

    Nice to see that you are still talking bollocks from your secret hideaway.

    So, News Corp. betting significant bucks on mobile dating is going to fail then?

  16. andrew worthington Says:

    its crap. why charge 10p for women but 49p for blokes.

  17. asad Says:

    plz tell me the site of mobile dating my mail add is i am 20 yrs old

  18. No Name Says:

    Mobile dating might suck today, but does that make it a complete write off?

  19. None Says:

    This is not true at all. Mobile dating is picking up. The text messaging generation will be the one to use mobile dating. Give it a few more years.
    Also, applications such as “Vicinity Match” have been sucessfully launched on mobiles.

  20. None Says:

    This is not true at all. Mobile dating is picking up. The text messaging generation will be the one to use mobile dating. Give it a few more years.
    Also, applications such as “VicinityMatch” have been successfully launched on mobiles.

  21. kpli Says:

    very nice post here..i’ve bookmarked this blog for future reference..

    Hey i hope it’s not too late to wish you a Happy New Year

    Enjoy reading this blog …;)


  22. 3by9 » The Future Is Movable Says:

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  23. Meagan Says:

    Speaking of mobile dating, have you heard of MeetMoi?

    Using groundbreaking technology, MeetMoi hopes to revolutionize social networking with the first truly location-based mobile dating service.

    The target is for smart-phone users who tend to leave their computers behind…

    Check them out:

  24. Thomas Says:

    I bet that will be huge some day.

  25. Julia Says:

    Well here’s site I use now and again called Crush or Flush ( It’s pretty good and I like chatting and meeting people on there. It works for me – you can even look up my profile if interested…

  26. Dion Bennetto Says:

    Check out this site.I use it reguarly to meet new swingers.Its helped me alot.It might help you.

  27. Collin Says:

    It may suck now Markus, but give it a few years to develop and I can honestly see it once again changing the way people meet.

    Just look at what type of phones are coming out these days. I know you understand the dating industry but knowing an industry does not always allow people (not meaning you) the ability to see what the future is going hold. You have to sit back and watch technology as well as trends.

  28. Juerg Says:

    Things are changing quickly nowadays and two years have passed since the first entry “Mobile Dating Sucks” was posted. In the meantime some established Internet dating platforms have gone mobile and some new and purely mobile services have started. One of them is By just looking at the fast growing numbers of users, it is pretty safe to say that for them mobile dating does NOT suck!

  29. Love Answer Says:

    I think in all early stages, it can be difficult to adopt or adapt. But over time as technology improves, we find new ways to make it more fun and it gets easier each time.

    Come on, give them a chance.

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  32. Anu @ Buongiorno Says:

    I would say there is nothing but mobile dating in the developing world, few people have slick laptops and high speed internet connections so people surf using their mobile phone. The mobile dating community Speedflirt ( was launched in India 2008 and I heard from the operators it is now amongst the top mobile services already. The Swedish guys from The Mobile Life visited India recently and this gave the impression they are serious about the market.

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  34. Justin Says:

    Mobile dating does indeed suck, but only if you try to shoehorn traditional dating services onto a mobile device. You need to build services from the ground up to maximise that small screen real estate. A good example is but it only works from the UK at the moment.

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  38. Sara Ch. Says:

    I think this subject is extremely interesting. I completely disagree that mobile dating won’t work. Even if it does “suck” now (although it’s improved considerably even since this article was written), smart phones are increasing in popularity as well as capabilities.

    Consider the Kindle and other ebook readers. Many people said that they’d never catch on because people like “real” books. Sure, my dad will most likely never give up physical books. However, the Kindle is now huge, competitors have started coming out of the woodwork and each year ebook readers increase in popularity.

    Another example is newspapers. Yes, people still read them, but many are tanking because consumers are now just as comfortable reading their news online.

    Look at regular online dating sites – they were initially scoffed at as last-ditch efforts of anti-social losers to find a date. And now sites like eHarmony and and crowded with respectable, winning members.

    This sort of argument reminds me of the quote (forgot who said it) from the 1960s. Someone said that there would be a worldwide need for perhaps a maximum of five computers worldwide. At the same time, another forward thinker was scoffed at for saying that someday there would be a computer in nearly every home.

    People are always resistant to change – especially with something of such long-standing popularity as printed books. I have no doubts that mobile dating sites will become bigger, more sophisticated and extremely popular.


  39. Andi Says:

    Forget about the mobile dating. As a member of POF I just want to be able to access my account via my phone, and currently I can’t do that. Being able to read my mail and respond is all that I would like to do, not mobile date.

    Thanks, Andi

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