America Online proposes Love.com

America Online makes good on its intentions, launching a preview of its Web personals service, which aims to ride the company's IM success into the lucrative Internet dating sector.

Matt Hines Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Matt Hines
covers business software, with a particular focus on enterprise applications.
Matt Hines
2 min read
America Online said Wednesday that it launched a preview of its upcoming Love.com Web personals service, which aims to ride the company's success with instant-messaging software into the lucrative Internet dating sector.

The giant Internet service provider (ISP) announced last month that it was building the so-called real-time personals site by pairing up the functionality and widespread distribution of its AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) application with the burgeoning popularity of online personals.

Web-based dating networks have proven increasingly profitable as businesses including InterActiveCorp's Match.com, Yahoo and Friendster have convinced millions of people to look for potential mates online.

Match.com, the current leader of Web personals industry, reported $48.3 million in revenue last quarter, up 44 percent from a year earlier.

AOL said Love.com will allow subscribers to browse other users' profiles, see which individuals are online, and communicate via AIM.

Other features of the service will include free personals information posting, AIM account linking--which gives people the ability to create unique AIM screen names and e-mail accounts related to the site--region-specific content and wireless access, which is slated to go live in 2004. The current trial gives people 60 days of free access to the site.

"Online personals powered by instant messaging are a natural next-step in the evolution of online dating services," Steven McArthur, executive vice president for AOL Messaging, said in a statement.

"By building AIM directly into Love.com, online daters will be able to communicate with a large, active community of people in real time, adding additional elements of interaction, emotion and personality to the world of online dating," it said.

The Love.com launch does not represent the company's first effort in the personals space, as it previously operated a service called Love@AOL, and currently uses listings from Match.com, with which it also shares revenue.

One source familiar with the project said online personals service Spring Street Networks will build the service's infrastructure while AIM collects profiles created by its users.

Representatives from AOL and Spring Street declined to comment on the partnership.