Mike Rhodes, founder and CEO of ConsultMyApp, explores…
Tinder celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. In just ten years, a single app has changed the way we meet and date mates (I actually met my wife on the app, so I’d like to think my views are based on experience!). Sure, we now have the likes of Bumble, Thursday, and others offering similar dating apps, but Tinder may have paved the way for those competitors.
Tinder’s foresight to choose an app-only dating platform was an inspiring and forward-thinking move at the time. Its competitors at the time – who, in truth, were targeting a slightly older demographic – lived exclusively online and on desktops. However, Tinder relied solely on the app and managed to change the dating behavior of consumers around the world in just a few years.
Success through simplicity
The success of Tinder was its simplicity. Its swipe feature allows users to reject or pick up a potential suitor in seconds. However, there are downsides to this fast-food approach to dating.
Over the years, Tinder users – and perhaps the wider dating public – have grown tired of the same old routine when meeting potential partners. Tinder has created a community of like-minded people who may be missing the deeper intimacy that comes from slower-paced relationships.
While the effort required to build a relationship has historically been more than just swiping a screen, the fun of playing and the sense of “accomplishment” you get when you meet someone you connect with may be lost in the process.
This approach to dating has repelled some. Many of Tinder’s users are now at a stage in their lives where they’re looking for something more than a hookup, and the question is, will Tinder need to rethink its approach over the next decade?
Need for evolution?
The physical characteristics shown in a photograph, as we all know, only scratch the surface of a person’s character (for better or for worse). How will Tinder overcome this and allow its users to get to know each other and match them more according to their basic desires and personality traits, rather than just by image? This is a problem that app developers around the world are trying to solve as we speak with a combination of better profiling, artificial intelligence and advanced data collection/profiling.
Another concern for the dating app is the safety of its users. The pure anonymity of the app has been a concern for some time. This has introduced risks that simply weren’t there before the app was born – even at a bar, people can decide if they want to meet someone again on a date and invest their time in them, or if the person doesn’t seem quite right for them .
Making that decision with just a text message — or, if pressed, a phone call — simply doesn’t allow people to judge how safe someone will feel on a date until they’re actually on it. I’ve seen many articles in the press since the inception of Tinder about some horror dating stories and some very scary and potentially dangerous ones. Similarly, concerns about the app’s use of customer data have been raised before in the wake of GDPR regulations.
So how do you make app dating safe in today’s world?
This is the second (and perhaps most important) question on the lips of dating app developers – as we saw with the recent firing of Tinder CEO Renata Nyborg, not every answer to this question is the right one.
There’s no denying the success of Tinder. It showed what can be achieved by simply running a program without excess, and there are many positive lessons that all industries can learn from business growth.
However, the next decade will be crucial for Tinder, and there are important challenges and questions that need to be answered if it is to continue its impressive success for another 10 years.
I believe that dating apps will never fully transition out of the social media genre as it is undeniably profitable (regardless of the risks and attempts to mitigate risk by app developers). However, we will start to see new brand/sub-brand options that cater to a significant number of users like myself who were looking for something more than a quick meeting. Ultimately, this is a journey that both we and big tech must take together over the coming years.