Facebook is taking its relationship with users to another level - from helping people forge friendships to now helping them find love. The social networking site will soon introduce a dating service. An 'obvious move' given its gargantuan user base. While singles are waiting for the service with bated breath, dating apps aren't upbeat. In fact, the shares of Match Group, a company that owns dating services such as Tinder, OkCupid and Match.com, took a plunge in the stock market after Facebook's announcement. Experts predict that the move will impact the Indian dating market that has global players Tinder, OkCupid and Coffee Meets Bagel, as well as start-ups such as TrulyMadly and Woo.
According to online market research firm Statista, the Indian dating services market is worth $182 million in 2018, of which the share of matchmaking segment is $156.5 million, online dating is $13.3 million and casual dating is $12.2 million. The overall market is expected to grow to $238 million by 2022. Statista defines a matchmaking site as a platform for searching life partners, online dating site as one for easy flirting and chatting, and a casual dating site as one where users look for non-committal sex. As Facebook is trying to position itself as a facilitator of 'long-term relationships' and not 'casual hook-ups', its foray is going to shake up not only online dating apps but also matrimonial sites such as Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony. Rohit Raj, Co-founder and Creative Chief at The Glitch, says existing players will have to make "considerable changes" to their model. There is more reason to worry for online matchmaking services and dating apps that let users create a profile using their Facebook accounts. Sumesh Menon, Co-founder and CEO of Woo, says it is unlikely that Facebook will forbid these users from accessing their profiles. But the amount of data and insight Facebook has gathered over time is incomparable.
Sachin Bhatia, CEO and Co-founder, Truly Madly, is unperturbed by Facebook's entry. He says the vast number of fake profiles on Facebook would create problems. Dating apps, meanwhile, only list verified profiles.
The anonymity these apps offer to users is a big plus. On other dating sites, you are matched with people you don't know, whereas on Facebook, one could get matched with a friend's friend or an acquaintance.
Pavel Naiya, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research, says that as most dating apps and matchmaking services follow the subscription model, they would face challenges in India; but not Facebook since it runs on an advertising-based model.