Tinder Turns 10: Can It Continue Its Fast-Food Approach To Dating?

Mike Rhodes, Founder and CEO of ConsultMyApp, explores…

Tinder is celebrating its 10th birthday this month. In only a decade, the way we date and meet companions has been truly revolutionised by a single app (I actually met my wife on the app, so I’d like to think my views here are based on experience!). Sure, we now have the likes of Bumble, Thursday and others offering similar app-based dating experiences, but Tinder arguably paved the way for these competitors.

The foresight from Tinder to choose to be an app-only dating platform was, at the time, an inspiring and forward-thinking move. Its competitors at the time – which in fairness focused on a slightly older demographic – lived solely online and on desktop. Tinder, however, relied solely on an app and with it, managed to change consumer dating behaviour globally in only a few years.

Success through simplicity

Tinder’s success has been its simplicity. Its swipe feature allows users to reject or match a potential suitor in seconds. However, there are downsides to this fast-food approach to dating.

Over the years, Tinder’s users – and arguably the wider dating public – have become weary of the same old routine when meeting potential partners. Tinder has created a community of the same type of person who arguably lacks the deeper intimacy that comes from a slower-forged relationship.

Whilst the effort needed to establish a relationship historically has been certainly more than the swipe of a screen, the fun of the game and sense of ‘achievement’ when you meet someone you bond with has arguably been lost in the process.

This approach to dating has alienated some. Many of Tinder’s users are now at a stage of their life where they are looking for something more than a hookup, and it begs the question whether Tinder will need to revaluate its approach over the next decade?


A need for evolution?

Physical characteristics on show in a photograph, as we all know, only scratch the surface of an individual’s character (for better or worse). How will Tinder overcome this and allow its users to get to know each other and match them more according to their underlying wants and character traits, rather than just a picture? This is a challenge trying to be solved as we speak by app developers around the world through combinations of better profiling, artificial intelligence, and enhanced data collection/profiling.

Another challenge for the dating app is the safety of its users. The sheer anonymity of the app has raised concerns for some time. It has introduced risks that simply weren’t present before the app was born – even in a bar, people are able to make a judgment about whether they would like to see someone again on a date and invest their time in them, or whether the individual doesn’t quite seem to be a fit for them.

Making that decision with only text communication – or, at a push, a phone call – just doesn’t allow people to judge how safe someone will feel on a date until they’re on it. I have seen plenty of articles in the press since Tinder’s inception of some horror dating stories and some seriously scary and potentially dangerous ones. Similarly, concerns over the app’s use of customer data have been previously raised after GDPR rules came in.

So, how do you make app-originated dating safe in a modern world?

That’s the second (and arguably most important) question on the lips of the dating app developers – as we’ve seen with the recent dismissal of Tinder’s CEO Renate Nyborg, not every answer to this problem is the correct one.

There is no denying Tinder’s success. It has shown what can be achieved with just the launch of a no-frills app and there are many positive lessons all industries can take from the business’ growth.

The next decade for Tinder, however, will be crucial and there are important concerns and questions that need to be answered if it’s to continue its impressive success for another 10 years.

My view is that dating apps will never fully transition from the hookup genre as it’s undeniably profitable (regardless of the risks and attempted risk-mitigation from the app developers). However, we will start to see new brand/sub-brand variants pop-up that cater for the significant volume of users such as myself that were looking for something a little bit more than a quick fling. Ultimately, this is a journey that over the coming years, both ourselves and big-tech must make together.