- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 24, 2005

PodDater.com may have created a new online dating niche: online dating on the go.

About 300 people signed up for the free service in the first week after PodDater.com started Nov. 16, said Jon Myers, vice president of strategy. He said the Columbus, Ohio, company expects 50,000 subscribers within three months as new IPod owners try to maximize use of the devices.

PodDater.com is targeting young consumers who know what they want to watch, when they want to watch it, and sometimes create video themselves, Mr. Myers said.

“It’s sexy,” said David Evans, who has been editor of the Online Dating Insider blog since 2002. “You can look at [dating profile] videos on your IPod. If I was a twentysomething with a 40-minute train ride to work, I’d do it.”

To sign up, potential daters create a short video about themselves, fill in profile information on PodDater.com, and put the video online using software on the site that converts it to the format read by video MP3 players, including Apple Computer Inc.’s new IPods that have 2.5-inch screens. The process takes about 10 minutes once the video is complete, Mr. Myers said.

Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., has not announced how many video IPods have been sold, but analysts are predicting strong holiday sales.

Mr. Myers said he hopes PodDater.com will be profitable within a year through syndication deals, which may include ads and would push profiles to potential matches based on their preferences.

“Right now, we’re perfecting the technology itself to push it to the [ITunes Music] store,” he said.

But Mr. Evans, 37, said that although PodDater.com’s approach is unique, it may be limited by its narrow target audience.

“Video on IPods is interesting, but I’m not sure there’s enough of a market of people to browse other people on their IPod versus a 17- or 19-inch [computer] monitor,” he said. “They have to come up with ancillary services to make it worthwhile to go to the site.”

Mr. Evans said PodDater.com could be successful if it evolves into a more modern version of the Hot or Not Web site (www.hotornot.com), which lets users rate the looks of others who have posted pictures and profiles on the site, as well as allowing them to post their own photos to be rated.

“It’s eye candy, but it’s totally addictive,” Mr. Evans said, adding that it helps build “communities of interest” around the site.

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