With the rise in popularity of online dating apps over recent years, does this spell the end of traditional online dating websites as we know them?

This year we have seen the popular online dating site Guardian Soulmates shut its doors for good citing the increased competition from dating apps and free dating websites as the main reason for their decision to stop their premium dating service. What we will look at today is, is this just the beginning of a shift in power from the big players such as Match and Eharmony who have enjoyed a strong market dominance for over a decade and where this leaves the highly profitable online dating market now.

For several years now, we have seen a gradual shift towards dating apps, many of which are considerably cheaper then their web based competitors and in some cases, completely free. The shift started with the launch of the successful app Tinder back in 2012

Since its launch we have seen a wealth of new dating app startups come and go. Most notably is Happn which launched in 2014 and soon became the dating app of choice for young singles looking for something a bit more long term than Tinders more casual approach to dating. Since their launch, both Tinder and Happn have introduced a premium paid membership which works in pretty much the same way as most premium dating sites where you can join for free but you need to be a p aid subscriber in order to fully experience the site and messaging features. In this respect, often the dating apps are no cheaper than the popular online dating sites, maybe they are better at luring in new members with promises of a free dating experience or less tightly regulated by what they can claim.

The age factor

While the younger generation are quick to jump onboard with these new apps, the older generations are still sceptical. Even the most popular dating apps for mature singles are hardly making a dent in the market share of the leading mature dating sites like Generations and Our Time. This is a trend many analysts feel will continue and while the younger generation are happy to jump from one dating app to the next big thing, older singles are likely to continue to use trusted online dating brands as their dating site of choice.

The future

Dating apps will continue to grow, new app will come and go and apps that are popular right now will become old and fade away. This is the problem with their fickly audience. The real winners in the battle for online dating supremacy will be the dating providers who can offer a real niche dating service that is both easy to use on all devices and secure. Large mature dating sites, site which cater for affairs and swingers and smaller niche sites such as plus size and small local areas are likely to come out of this pretty much unscathed.