Tinder’s paid subscription service could ruin everything that made the app great
Flickr Welcome to the world of online dating.Tinder, the outrageously popular free dating app, is going through a huge change. It is in the middle of launching a paid subscription product called Tinder Plus, which is being tested in parts of Europe.
Many Tinder users think the update ruins everything that made the original version great, namely because it will limit the number of swipes users have.
Morgan Stanley isn’t optimistic about Tinder Plus either. An analyst note says “Tinder will not have much success monetizing” through its subscription strategy. It goes on to estimate that only 5% to 6% of users will pay for the premium version.
Tinder is popular in large part because it is so easy to use: You swipe right if you like someone and left if you don’t. Users have an unlimited number of swipes, so it feels as much like a mobile game as it does a dating app (important for those who are still hesitant about online dating). In fact, lots of users keep the app in the “Games” folder of their phones.
And Tinder does not require the lengthy, time-intensive profiles of OkCupid or Match.com. All you can see about other users is a maximum of five photographs and a short bio.
Here is what you see on Tinder: a photo, name, age, shared friends, and interests.
Other apps — some of which are not free — make
You can see in the chart below that Tinder dominates the US dating app market.
Tinder has not seen any serious dips in popularity since it emerged on the scene in January 2013. It only dropped out of the US App Store’s top-250 rankings once.
Here is a chart from App Annie that shows Tinder’s iOS App Store ranking. The blue line is the app’s overall ranking in the US App Store.
The app has continued to grow, even after 2013’s sudden rise. Monthly active users have tripled in the past year.
But early signs indicate that Tinder Plus, which according to TechCrunch is being deployed to 40% of users in countries like the UK, Brazil, and Germany, will not be received in the same way as its predecessor.
Tinder Plus is an in-app subscription (not a separate app) that adds some interesting features to Tinder. Today’s users encounter only people who are nearby. With Tinder Plus, the dating radius will expand. You can connect to people in other cities using a feature called “Passport.” You can also undo any accidental swipes. These are actually cool features, and nobody is freaking out about them (yet).
This is what it looks like when you encounter someone using Passport to swipe people in other places:
The biggest complaint is over what will happen to the free version of the app. Once the paid subscription service officially rolls out, Tinder users will have limited swipes. It is unclear how many right swipes people will have each day, as the numbers are still being tested.
Fans of Tinder are already complaining about the update. Take a look at the long list of disappointed customer reviews on Tinder’s UK App Store page, days after the company began testing Tinder Plus on European users:
App Store reviews are not always an accurate indicator of an app’s popularity, as an angry user is far likelier to leave a rating than a satisfied one. But the App Store does show a dip in Tinder’s customer rating, now averaging at 1 1/2 stars compared with the rating of 3 1/2 stars that includes previous versions of the app without Tinder Plus.
Most of the angry App Store reviews talk about what Tinder has taken away instead of what it has added. The swipe limit seems to have really upset some hardcore Tinder fans.
Here, via TechCrunch, is what Tinder users are so angry about:
So why is Tinder deciding to transform the casual dating app into something resembling a premium dating app? What you might not know about Tinder is that it is not a small startup. In fact, it never has been.
Tinder originated as an experimental project from inside IAC, the giant company that owns some of the internet’s most popular websites. As well as Tinder, IAC owns the popular dating sites Match.com and OkCupid. IAC’s Tinder experiment has been a success — now it is time to make some money.
The Tinder Plus model works for sites like OkCupid: Pay extra for cool new features. But Tinder is not like IAC’s other dating sites. In fact, you could argue that it is not a dating site at all. Tinder’s casual, game-like nature has been a major part of its appeal. A subscription model makes Tinder more serious, more like its competitors. And if early App Store reviews are anything to go by, Tinder users are not taking kindly to Tinder Plus.