Tinder's paid subscription service could ruin everything that made it great


Tinder, the outrageously popular free dating app, is going through a huge change. It’s in the middle of launching a paid subscription product called Tinder Plus, currently being tested in some European countries.

Many Tinder users feel that the update ruins everything that made the original version great, namely because it will limit the number of swipes users have.

Tinder is popular, in large part, because it’s 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 like a mobile game as much as 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 doesn’t 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’s what you see on Tinder: a photo, name, age, shared friends, and interests.

Other apps — some of which aren’t free — make dating seem like a chore. But Tinder is effortless. It’s easy to pick up, swipe, and ignore.

You can see in the chart below that Tinder currently dominates the US dating app market.

Tinder hasn’t seen any serious dips in popularity since emerged on the scene in January 2013. It only dropped out of the top 250 US App Store ranking once.

Here’s 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 last year.

But early signs indicate that Tinder Plus, which right now is being deployed to 40% of users in countries like the UK, Brazil, and Germany according to TechCrunch, won’t 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. Right now, users only encounter 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, eliminating the possibility of more serendipitous meetings. 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’s going to happen to the free version of the app. Once the paid subscription service officially rolls out, Tinder users will have limited swipes. It’s not clear yet how many right swipes people will have each day, as the amount is 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 aren’t always an accurate indicator of an app’s popularity, as an angry user is far more likely to leave a rating than a satisfied one. But the App Store does show a dip in Tinder’s customer rating, now averaging at 1.5 stars compared to the 3.5 stars overall rating 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. It seems that the swipe limit has 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 isn’t 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 popular dating sites Match.com and OkCupid. IAC’s Tinder experiment has been a success — now it’s time to make some money.

The Tinder Plus model works for sites like OkCupid: Pay extra for cool new features. But Tinder isn’t like IAC’s other dating sites. In fact, you could argue that it’s 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 online dating. And if early App Store reviews are anything to go by, Tinder users aren’t taking kindly to Tinder Plus.

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