Hot or Not

Hot Or Not Is Making A Comeback – As A Dating App

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Once upon a time, back in the 2000s, Hot Or Not was a phenomenon sweeping the Web. By now most of us had written the site off as a piece of early 21st century nostalgia, but it’s just gotten a mobile makeover and has plans to join the booming online dating business.

The new version of the addictive rating game is owned by UK-based online dating company Badoo, and is now available in the iTunes and Android app stores. Like other mobile dating apps, Hot Or Not uses location-based data to show you the most attractive people in your vicinity. That idea is nothing new. What Hot Or Not hopes will catch users’ eyes is the app’s customized Hot Lists, which are based on how users vote on profiles created in-house of celebrities, politicians, authors, and other recognizable figures.

The Hot Lists feature calculates a person’s hotness based on user votes, then updates in real-time to show the prettiest people near you. The radius the real-time Hot Lists span depends on the number of users active in a given area – so the more users who are around, the more the radius will shrink to keep it localized.

The rest of the app works exactly as you would expect a mobile dating app to work. Users can connect their Hot or Not profiles to Facebook, which autofills their Hot or Not profiles with their Facebook likes and profile pictures. In the games section, users can browse the profiles of other members in their area and rate them with a heart (for “hot”) or an X (for “not”). If a user hits the heart, they can strike up a private conversation with the person who tickles their fancy.

Russian entrepreneur Andrey Andreev, who launched Badoo in Spain in 2006, is the man behind the plan to bring Hot Or Not back. Badoo is one of the largest international dating sites in the world, with roughly 200 million users in 180 countries, but its presence in the US is lacking. Andreev hopes Hot Or Not will change all that. So far, he claims the new Hot or Not app has amassed 10 million users in its short lifetime.

It’s impossible to prove the validity of Andreev’s claim, but according to the Google Play store, the app has been installed on Android devices between one million and five million times. In the iTunes App Store, shortly after its release, the Hot or Not app ranked 321st overall and 21st in lifestyle.

You can download the app for iPhone, Android, and Windows phones.

The Booming Business Of Virtual Goods

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The concept of purchasing virtual goods may not have been around for long, but it has now become one of the fast-growing types of business online. According to the Inside Virtual Goods report, the overall market for virtual goods in the US is on its way to hitting $2.9 billion in 2012 - that's up from $2.2 billion this year and $1.6 billion in 2010.

The virtual goods industry first exploded on Facebook with the popularity of games like FarmVille and CityVille, in which users purchase currency that can be used within the game. Facebook also added a virtual gifts feature that allowed users to buy and send gifts to one another.

Dating sites quickly picked up on the success of the virtual goods game. Plenty of Fish offers "Goldfish Credits" for purchase in packages of 100, 215, or 500. With Goldfish Credits, users can send gifts to other members or find out if someone has opened their messages. Gifts are publically posted on the recipient's profile for 3 three weeks before disappearing. Each Plenty of Fish member also receives 2 virtual roses when they join the site. Roses are sent when composing a message, but each rose may only be used once during a 30 day period. Because they are a rare commodity on the site, roses are considered an especially strong indicator of a user's interest.

HOT or NOT was also an early adopter of virtual goods. The site offered virtual roses ranging from $2 to $10 that could be sent to prospective dates. Though more expensive, the $10 roses became the most popular option because they sent the strongest signals to the recipient. HOT or NOT also found that the recipients of virtual gifts were four times more likely to respond to the sender than users who did not receive a gift.

To date, Zoosk is one of the biggest virtual goods success stories. Zoosk Coins are a virtual currency used to purchase a range of features on the site. According to the site's FAQ, Coins can be used to "purchase Gifts, arrange for a Special Delivery, receive a Delivery Confirmation for your email messages, and Boost your profile." Gifts are cute graphics, like flowers and pets, that can be sent to other members. Special Delivery alerts a message recipient with a pop-up when they have received a message from a user who has purchased the feature. Delivery Confirmation notifies the buyer when their messages have been read, and Boost is a feature that puts the purchaser at the top of someone's search results or in a special place on the homepage of other interested users.

Virtual goods seem poised to become more popular than ever on dating and social networking sites. It looks like your holiday shopping list just got a little bit longer.

For more on this story you can read TechCrunch. For information on the dating sites mentioned in this article you can read our POF.com review and our Zoosk.com review.

HotOrNot Sold!

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TechCrunch is reporting that HotOrNot.com was sold to a Canadian company called Avid Life Media for an unconfirmed $20 million. Avid Life Media also owns Ashley Madison which is a hook-up site for married people.

It is estimated that Hot Or Not pulled in $2 million in profit last year. If this is the case, $20 million seems a little low, especially when compared to what other dating services have been sold for lately. I've got the sense recently though that Hot Or Not has been struggling with trying to increase revenue. They briefly went to a free model last summer (relying on people clicking on ads to bring in the income) but cited huge profile spam for switching to their paid revenue model again.

Related Story: Hot or Not is now Paid (again)

UPDATE - (Feb. 15, 2008) James, one of the original owners of HotOrNot.com, has confirmed the sale on his blog. He also mentioned that the $20 million price tag is incorrect. He didn't go into any details on what they did receive as payment.

Hot or Not is now Paid (again)

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Hot or Not has decided to abandon their free dating format. The main reason the dating site suggests, is because the number of spammers and fake profiles increased to the point of being out of control and slowing down the system. In my opinion Hot or Not is switching back to a paid dating site because it is more profitable. A couple of months ago they switched to a free dating site system hoping to draw in more users. Free dating sites make money by selling ad space on their site or by the number of users who click on these advertisements. Hot or Not was hoping with their current user base and the additional users they would receive for being free would off set the cost of loosing membership fees. This was obviously not the case.

You must remember running a good dating site, with some sort of quality control of profiles and customer support costs money. Not only that, online dating is a very competitive market and dating services must be constantly upgrading their services and adding new and useful features to their site to help attract more singles, which again costs money. With Hot or Not going with basically the same paid format as before, will benefit singles on the site more in my opinion, than being free.