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At new dating site, love is in the MacBook Air

Apple's ads used to challenge consumers to "think different." Now a website wants fans of the company's products to date different, too.

Called Cupidtino, an homage to Apple's home base in Cupertino, California, the site aims to connect Apple aficionados with like-minded "Machearts." The idea is that if you love iPhones and Macs, you might be best suited to date a fellow Apple fan.

About 16,000 Apple fanboys and fangirls have signed up since the site launched in early June, sharing such intimate details as their earliest Apple product purchases and lists of favorite iPhone apps on their profile pages.

Cupidtino is the brainchild of Mel Sampat, a former Microsoft employee who came up with the idea during an argument with his girlfriend over whether he should use his iPad during dinner. Sampat told her that if they ever broke up he would date someone who likes Apple products. That got him thinking about creating a site to help connect those who do.

"The more I thought about it, the more I realized people that are true Apple fans might actually have a lot more in common than they realize," he said.

The site's styling is unmistakably Apple-inspired, with a crisp, clean layout, copious use of black, white and gray and text presented in a bold, sans-serif font.

So far, Apple hasn't taken issue with the similarities. Sampat said he received an e-mail from Apple's business development team in San Francisco, which said it was aware of Cupidtino and to let the group know if he needed any help. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Shuguet said the company had no comment.

The site was initially available in a free "beta" version but on Wednesday began charging users a bit less than $5 a month to read messages they've been sent.

It's usable only on a Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, naturally.

Your browser lets Cupidtino know what operating system your computer uses, so if you try to access it on a PC it will lead you to a page that apes Apple's popular "I'm a Mac" ads and lets you know Cupidtino is off-limits from Windows.

And you can only sign up on a Mac or iPad; Cupidtino quickly disabled iPhone signups because users can't upload photos from the device.

For now, it can be tricky to find anyone near you. The site only lets you filter users by country and, in the U.S., by state. Sampat said he and two unpaid stakeholders are working on more features, as well as Cupidtino iPhone and iPad applications.

Andrew Fiore, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies how people form relationships through dating sites, thinks Cupidtino cleverly capitalizes on the excitement surrounding the iPad and iPhone.

"As those things become more and more integrated into life, I can see why people want somebody that might share their preference in that area," he said, "even if it is just one dimension of what someone likes about you."