Pilotimad, Derek and BigZ are all Ottawa-area members of SAM, a locally created singles app that in the five years since it started has attracted close to five million lonely – or randy – hearts worldwide. These days, it’s picking up about 200,000 downloads each month, according to founder Chris Klotz, earning it a four-star rating among users.
Most users are in the 25 to 35 age range, with about a three-to-one ratio of men to women, which Klotz says is normal for the industry.
The app also provides fascinating glimpses into the lives of our neighbours, such as 24-year-old Scott (ottawa187), who already has children although not currently living with him, and who MIGHT want more. One might reasonably question his wisdom in using a profile photo in which he’s flipping prospective dates the bird. Then we come across 21-year-old felicia-xo, who is also giving the middle finger to potential Mr. Rights. “im outgoing and a lot of fun,” she insists. “I hate fake bitches.” It would be nice to think that they’ll find each other and go on long hikes together until their fingers are sore.
(To be fair, there are numerous “normal” people here, too, who appear to be in search of companionship without so much drama; they just don’t make quite as interesting reading.)
The switch from personal ads in newspapers to web-based dating services and, more recently, apps for smartphones, has been a boon to those looking for love, friendship or simply a Super-8 co-star. Apps have especially benefitted from the location services technology available on mobile devices, allowing dating app users to let other members know where they are – be it at home in Ottawa or on holidays in Spain – and hook up. On SAM, for example, a map of the area you’re in is displayed, with pins identifying where other singles are.
“This is the way that people date and find each other now,” says Klotz, a married father of three. “It’s the way it’s done for the vast majority of people.”
This sort of technology has been around for more than 20 years and was already hitting the mainstream by 2010 when SAM came along, with apps users free to turn the service on or off. What makes SAM unique from its scores of competitors is the proprietary software Klotz developed, allowing members to slightly and randomly shift their location by between two and five kilometres, removing some of the creep factor to location-based dating.
“You could always show or hide your location,” says Klotz, “but suppose you want to play the game in the vicinity, but don’t actually want to plot where you are?”
According to Klotz, 60 per cent of SAM’s users have opted for the shifting option, with the remaining 40 per cent split fairly evenly between those who want their precise location revealed and those who want it kept private.
“It tells us that people love having the vicinity they’re in shown, but they don’t like it shown accurately,” he says.
A New Edinburgh resident and entrepreneur with an MBA from Cambridge, Klotz expects the shifting location software he’s Belfast United Kingdom local hookup in the process of patenting to be of huge interest to the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter, making SinglesAroundMe, or simply the location-shifting patent, an extremely valuable commodity. Before SAM, Klotz developed and sold online job ads at jobshark.
In the meantime, there’s a hole in BigZ’s film career to fill and Derek’s fabulousness to take care of, as well as Felicia and Scott’s wagging fingers and sexxymamma69 (“Lady in the streets but a freak in the sheets”). And who can resist tjb92, shirtless and sporting a parrot on each shoulder, or Late-Nite, who appears to be an actual police artist’s sketch and who promises “I’m not easily forgotten.” And kindhearted, caring, honest and loyal Lisetigger2, and muffdvrbahd, and Godismycoach, and chinoboxer, and couldbefun…
There are apps for gays, straights, Jews, Christians, Muslims and seniors. Some use your taste in music to hook you up with people, while others are simply about gettin’ down and, well, laid. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. Many are free, while others charge users. Some are “freemium,” meaning the basics are free, but users are charged for certain features.