Revenues from mobile dating and chatroom services are expected to pass $1bn by 2010, according to a new report from Juniper Research.
Globally, the number of users of such services is expected to rise from just over 40m in 2007 to 260m in 2012, driven by strong demand in both developed and emerging markets, including more than 60m users in the Indian sub-continent.
According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "Major brands such as Match.com and Webdate have recognised that customers are willing to pay a mobility premium for 24/7 access to these services and are increasing deploying mobile applications to complement and enhance their existing offerings."
Holden added that the sector was also becoming increasingly attractive to start-ups seeking to launch cross-platform services from the outset.
"The increasing proliferation of 3G handsets and a mean that companies are increasing confident of introducing converged services at the outset. Furthermore, those companies which embrace such a strategy - such as Flirtomatic - are experiencing significantly higher levels of traffic from their WAP users than from their users on the fixed internet."
The report cautions, however, that usage was being retarded in many territories by excessive and confusing data pricing, stating that the high costs of data - particularly for prepaid customers - were continuing to act as a disincentive for regular usage and more widespread adoption.
Other findings from the report include:
* At the present time, the largest mobile dating markets by user numbers are Japan and India.
* The low level of fixed penetration in India, and the increasing
tendency in the country to use mobile services directly as an aide not merely for dating, but for marriage, suggests that overall penetration here will be significantly higher than elsewhere in the world
* Many customers will use mobile dating as an adjunct to, rather than instead of, their fixed internet dating services