Nate Elliott, a senior analyst with JupiterResearch, says he thinks the new convergence of social networking and dating sites is interesting, but not necessarily permanent. "We just haven't seen these types of free dating sites have a significant impact on the dating industry," says Elliott.
While none of the next-gen dating sites' founders admitted to explicitly tracking whether online dates resulted in offline relationships, MIT Media Lab researcher Jeana Frost wonders if the speed-date model could actually keep users from finding long-term love.
"How are we going to build deep and committed relationships when you are always wondering if someone else might be someone better?" she asks.
But Sam Yagan, CEO and founder of Crazy Blind Date, says he sees a definite benefit to next-gen dating schemes. It's hard to filter out potential dates using old-school methods like e-mail and personal ads, he says, and services like his make online dating easier than ever.
"You could spend five hours for one awful date, or go on 10 first dates in an hour," says Yagan. "You can endure a few minutes talking to anyone, no matter how ugly. And at least you can say you met someone new."