Flirtomatic mobile dating – mjelly.com mobile 2.0 service of the week

James from mjelly.com here with another Mobile 2.0 Service of the Week – only two more to go until MIR goes subscription so this week it had to be … Flirtomatic.   This is without doubt the single best mobile internet service to come out of the UK and has really set the standard in terms of user experience, product design and building a mobile business model.

flirtomatic

What is it?

Flirtomatic is essentially a mobile dating site, but actually it’s a lot more than that.  Flirtomatic call it a “real time, high capacity, multimedia, messaging platform” or a “flirting service”.

Flirtomatic was originally created by the guys at the mobile agency Fjord and it launched in 2006.  They originally developed the site as a web + mobile service but mobile has basically become the major platform for them, accounting for the majority of traffic.

This was one of the first mobile 2.0 services to emerge during the nuclear winter of mobile, when the market was dominated by semi-criminal enterprises selling ringtone subscriptions and so on.  Since then Flirtomatic have gone from strength to strength – their usage statistics speak for themselves:

  • 1m registered users
  • sending over 25 million messages per month
  • logging in around seven times a day on their mobile
  • generating over 100 million wap page views per month

So what is creating all this traffic and usage? Basically, flirtomatic is an example of how to design an amazing mobile product that ANYONE – not just mobile geeks or early adopters can understand and use.  Once you have registered for a profile you can do things like browse profiles, send messages or “flirts” or “supersnogs” and rate other people on the service.  It’s all really usable and fun – so many mobile services are really painful to use but not this one.

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Why is it interesting

There are so many things you could drill down into around flirtomatic and so many lessons to learn from them but the main one is how they have managed to build a real business on the mobile platform, that doesn’t depend on mobile advertising or dodgy subscriptions.  Flirtomatic quadrupled its revenues in 2008 and it looks like 2009 is going to be another massive year for them.

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Flirtomatic has built a raft of premium services that users can pay for beyond the free core.  Premium services are enabled by Flirtomatic’s own currency, ‘Flirt Points’.  Some of the paid-for features include:

  • Virtual gifts
  • Real gifts (you can actually send someone a present to their address)
  • Rating analysis and enhancement – e.g. finding out which users have rated you and deleting poor ratings (they call this “delete your freak’
  • Text alerts – sent when someone they like comes online
  • User advertising – Paying to put your profile photo in a predominant position on the homepage called “look at me”

screenshot0414

Flirtomatic has been really clever about making the virtual gifts fit in with the real world, for example theming around the time of year or events. In July 2008, it drove massive growth in the sending of virtual gifts by creating things like “virtual boob jobs” (ready for the beach) and sold 10k of them at £1 a pop.  The current run rate for Flirtomatic’s virtual good is one million per year.

screenshot0416

The other cool thing about Flirtomatic is the way that it is successfully rolling out into multiple markets, based on the model established in the UK. In June 2008, they launched in Germany, and in January 2009 they moved into the US. Basically, the product and business system they have built can work anywhere and it’s just a question of scaling this up internationally.

Flirtomatic is an amazing success story and something the UK mobile internet industry can be really proud of – let’s see what they come up with next…

We’ll be back next week with the final Mobile 2.0 Service of the Week at Mobile Industry Review (sob!) but we’ll be continuing the series over at http://blog.mjelly.com

You can find flirtomatic and other mobile chat sites and mobile dating sites on our directory at mjelly.com

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