Online dating, including using web pages, mobile apps or other internet services, has become a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. Recent data shows that around 40 percent of worldwide internet users are willing to use their electronic devices in order to find a date. In the United States online dating accounts for 49 percent of the dating service industry revenues, while mobile dating accounts for 26 percent.
The rise of the internet has enabled those looking for romance to defy distances and connect with like-minded singles across the globe. At the same time, increased smartphone use and new GPS technologies have led to the unprecedented popularity of apps such as Tinder or Grindr, a phenomenon called geosocial networking. These services can be used in order to find possible matches in close proximity to the user, especially in cities, where relative anonymity can be preserved and where otherwise strangers might feel uncomfortable interacting in real life. According to a recent worldwide survey, 74 percent of location-based dating app users were living in urban areas.
The virtual dating market has also become highly specialized, as more and more people have very different reasons for dating on the internet. Many niche services are catering to very specific interests, certain ages, sexual orientations, religious and political affiliations, even certain medical conditions or preferred form of encounter. The market features such websites as JDate, the online dating service aimed at Jewish singles or Farmers Only, the dating site for farmers, ranchers, cowboys, cowgirls or animal lovers. The American media and internet company InterActiveCorp (IAC), which owns over 150 brands across 100 countries, including Vimeo, Ask.com and The Daily Beast, is also the largest company in the online dating industry. IAC has recently organized all its dating services under the name Match Group, which includes Match.com, the market leader in the United States, as well as OkCupid, Tinder, Chemistry.com, BlackPeopleMeet, SeniorPeopleMeet and SpeedDate.com. In 2013 the Match Group generated worldwide sales of 788 million U.S. dollars.