Lavalife, Match and Nerve Singles told others whether you were there to date, get married or make friends with benefits. Today, location-based dating sites are quickly gaining ground. With the increasing mainstream acceptance of services like Foursquare and Gowalla, new opportunities within the dating space have emerged. Forget badges and points, geo-locational apps already have the power to promise you love.Less than a decade ago, online dating was by no way considered mainstream. Not only were you judged for putting your profile up on a dating site, but your choice of site between
ReadWriteWeb caught up with Skout CEO Christian Wiklund. Last month we covered Wiklund's transition from building a location-based network to a dating site.
When asked how proximity-based dating is different than regular dating he explained, "With mobile location-enabled dating sites we can make serendipity happen. Skout cares about 'when and where' you are. We refrain from matching singles on 100+ dimensions or requiring you to fill out pesky forms. This is about the conversation that you have with a person, similar to how you would engage a potential love interest in real life."
Wiklund's casual approach to dating takes into account the context of a place coupled with looks as being key connection indicators. Essentially, if you find someone attractive and they hang out in a place you hang out, then you can contact each other and meet up. He is so sure that users will find others, that this Valentine's Day he's offering premium members a money back guarantee if they don't find a date for Sunday. Then again, what sad soul would be bold enough to ask for their money back?
Nevertheless, the fact that Wiklund's site is already charging for services like unlimited chat, premium placement and unlimited browsing access, shows a stark mind shift between dating and general apps like Gowalla and Foursquare. Those using Foursquare might not be willing to spend freely on virtual gifts or currencies, but even ten years ago, dating site users were used to the idea of winks, flirts and chat at a premium. This fact, coupled with the biological urge to mate, means that dating might turn out to be among the most lucrative categories for geo-locational services.