It has come not out of Silicon Valley, or London’s fast-growing equivalent (the so-called “Silicon Roundabout” on Old Street) but out of Paris.
Since its launch in France five months ago, happn claims to have garnered 150,000 users.
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Everyone has romantic notions about dating in Paris. In movies, books, magazine articles, on other platforms throughout the world, people tend to see the city through a very rosy, amourous lens.
And within five weeks of launching in the UK, 25,000 people have signed up. In the old days online dating was an arduous business that involved writing long profiles and filling in elaborate questionnaires.
“I have seen so many hot guys today that I wish I had been on happn,” tweeted one user. Now there’s an altogether simpler, more instant way to meet people, based on GPS technology in your smartphone. All you have to do is supply the skimpiest of personal information (and your Facebook network), upload a picture or two, and – bingo! Designed to facilitate what one French magazine racily refers to as des rencontres fugaces (fleeting encounters), happn operates within a radius of 250m, which is good news if you live in the capital, bad if it’s the Brecon Beacons.
Why a country that invented champagne, bikinis and Chanel should need it is anybody’s guess but Londoners in their 20s and 30s (and occasionally 40s) are lapping up happn’s English language version and the app is already planning a similar conquest of Berlin.