Juniper Research has just released a new report that claims the value of the mobile dating and chatroom market will grow to nearly $1.4 billion by 2013, and also pegs the total UGC market to reach $7.3 billion by the same time. The estimate is up almost half from a report by the research agency that was presented in May 2008, which said revenues from mobile dating and chat services were expected to exceed $1 billion by 2010.
The predictions are a bit optimistic in my opinion, but the suggested growth should make startups like the UK-based Flirtomatic, MeetMoi, PlutoLife and IceBrkr hopeful, although the big dating sites like Match.com and WebDate are heavily experimenting with expanding their dating services to mobile platforms as well.
With 3G-enabled video chat and 24/7 access, mobile phones definitely offer a potentially strong medium for dating services, although I consider a great user interface that matches with its fixed counterpart and security two major hurdles to overcome. Also, the business model remains largely unproven; besides mobile advertising, some services charge a fixed fee for membership, others per message sent, and others provide free access but generate revenue from selling mobile virtual goods in addition. Juniper Research says the bulk of revenues will come from the subscription model, but the other models are definitely growing in number and weight.
It’ll be interesting if and how mobile social networks and applications that leverage devices’ location awareness (or a combination of both) will integrate mobile dating services into their offerings.