The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 20, 2012

Finding love on the run: The fast rise of mobile dating apps

Mobile dating. It's all the horrors of online dating transferred to your phone, where you get creepy texts from people who view your profile and use your location to stalk you. Right?

Sometimes, yes. But it could also spontaneously put you in front of the someone who likes your favorite food, books and music and might just like you, too.

As a concept, mobile dating isn't really new. It's been around since the invention of mobile phones. Smartphones and apps are just the shiny new tools in the age-old quest for love.

Americans now use dating apps more than online dating sites, according to a 2011 report by Flurry Analytics. "The number of people using dating apps is growing faster than the number using all apps," it said. "In short, dating is a growth category."

Globally, the mobile dating market is expected to be worth $2.3 billion by 2016, up from $1 billion in 2011, according to Juniper Research. Most apps use the "freemium" business model, where it's free to sign up, but people pay a fee for premium features.

Match, eHarmony, Skout, Grindr, OkCupid, MeetMoi, Plenty Of Fish and Badoo each boast a distinct personality and millions of user profiles, messages, chats, winks, flirts or other measures of dating app success. The iTunes store has countless dating apps under its social networking category.

But much like dating, finding just the right match is no easy task, according to industry experts.

At a swanky Los Angeles hotel in June, six single people sat before a roomful of industry executives to discuss that issue.

This annual conference is a gathering of the biggest players in the dating app business. The six participants had signed up for a first-of-its-kind mobile dating boot camp, organized by Julie Spira, an author and cyber-dating expert.

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