Mobile dating (long ver.)



Tinder: The Game Changer (long ver.)
Mobile dating (long ver.)
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I. Intro

Tinder is one of the hottest mobile applications among 20 and 30-year-olds in the US.

  • Founding motivation: When people start to like somebody, they usually become timid and think, ‘if only I knew whether he/she likes me back, I would definitely feel more comfortable approaching him/her.’ Tinder settles this question in advance.
  • History: Started in the Inter Active Corp’s (IAC) start-up incubator Hatch Lab, Tinder has become the best online dating service on the planet.
  • ‘12: Three co-founders developed and released Tinder at Hatch Lab.
  • ‘12: Tinder launched a marketing campaign targeting university students and enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity among 20-year-olds (90% of users were college-aged).
  • ‘14: When the fact that athletes in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics used Tinder became public, the app became the center of global media attention and experienced an exponential influx of new users. → Tinder grew to monopolize 85% of the US online dating market.
  • ‘14: The Tinder team expanded to 40 people, and its user base diversified and expanded (the percentage of users who were college-aged fell from 90 to 50%). Tinder achieved 200 million matches and expanded to the European/South American markets.
  • ‘15: Tinder released its premium version, Tinder Plus, successfully monetizing with a [1]freemium revenue model.
  • ‘16: Tinder opened its first office in Silicon Valley and hired more developers, expanding to 60 employees.
  • Usage:
    • Tinder users are paired based on location and can view each other’s profiles. They can then “swipe” the screen either to the right – to show interest – or to the left – to skip to the next profile.
    • Conversations are initiated only when two users show mutual interest. This is called a “match.”

Tinder’s huge profits come from additional paid services that enhance a user’s possibility of matching with his/her ideal partner.

  • Tinder Plus: Gives users five “Super Likes” per day (showing high interest in another user, [2]tripling one’s chance of matching). Non-paid users only have one Super Like per day.
  • Tinder Boost: Makes a user’s profile the top profile in his/her area for 30 minutes, boosting the user’s profile views tenfold.
  • Tinder Gold: Allows users to “rewind” to profiles they mistakenly swiped left to, and gives five Super Likes per day and one Tinder Boost per month. Additionally, it activates “Likes You,” which reveals the profiles of those who showed interest before swiping. This way, Tinder Gold users enjoy a much greater likelihood of matching with others.
  • Tinder Online: Enables users to access Tinder from their computers (currently available in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Sweden, etc.).

Having outcompeted its strongest competitors (i.e. and OkCupid), Tinder has monopolized the US market and emerged as a unicorn valued at $1.35 billion.

  • Significant growth in user engagement: Daily “swipes” went from 1 billion swipes in 2012 to 1.6 billion in 2015. Daily matches grew from 12 million matches in 2014 to 26 million matches in 2017.
  • Fostering Tinder-holics: Tinder has been downloaded 100 billion times, and there have been a cumulative 11 billion matches as of early 2017. Currently, 40 million “Tinder-holics” are spending an average of 1.5 hours per day on Tinder.
  • Rapid evolution to unicorn status: In July 2015, Merrill Lynch estimated Tinder’s value at $1.35 billion.

Recently, Tinder has been focusing on enabling people to build meaningful relationships with others around the globe.

  • Passport: As a part of the Tinder Plus package, Passport helps users to form deeper relationships than casual [3]hookups. Before departing to a new area, users can change their locations on Tinder and get travel advice from locals.
  • Future plans for service development: Tinder is planning to offer a variety of meaningful matches, such as networking opportunities with employees in their current or intended industries/workplace.

II. Early success factors

There are four leading factors for Tinder’s early success and popularity.

1. Tinder’s functions satisfy customers’ [4]unmet needs.

  • [5]The more, the merrier: While other mobile apps limit the number of profiles users can like, non-paying users on Tinder can swipe right to up to 100 people each day. Because Tinder users have access to an unlimited number of profiles, their chances of meeting their ideal match are much greater. → As of early 2017, Tinder reported a daily 1.6 billion swipes and 2.6 million matches.
  • Reducing uncertainty: Because Tinder allows users to view each other’s profiles anonymously, users do not worry as much about anticipating another’s responses. Not only does this help users avoid rejection and the accompanying psychological distress, it also prevents them from wasting time/money on dates that don’t have the potential for success.
  • Location-services: Users have access to others’ profiles based on their locations, so they can immediately meet their matches. → Tinder users are ten times more likely to meet up than users of other mobile dating apps.

2. In its early days, Tinder acquired customers through college student-specific events and by word-of-mouth.

  • “Tinder Party” at USC: Two of Tinder’s six co-founders graduated from USC. They decided to throw a “Tinder Party” at USC, and those who downloaded Tinder could ride free shuttles to the party venue and enjoyed free admission and alcohol. → 400 of 500 party attendants downloaded the app, and those who had fun with Tinder recommended it to their friends, spreading Tinder quickly throughout the university campus.
  • Rapid expansion to universities in the west coast: After its success in USC, the Tinder team soon launched events at universities in Los Angeles and San Diego. The team met with [6]fraternities and sororities, attracting more than a hundred Tinder-holics. → The number of users grew from 20,000 to 500,000 within a month.

3. Low-cost, high-efficiency marketing with the help of “[7]influencers.

  • Influencers: Media personalities with high reputations, but not to the same degree as celebrities. They are only popular either during a specific time period or among a specific group of people.
  • The Tinder team reached out to influencers from non-mainstream entertainment sectors (i.e. sports, beauty pageants) to publicize Tinder and attract public attention.
  • Example: Jamie Anderson (American Olympic gold medalist in women’s snowboarding): Entertainment outlets reported on her interview revealing that she was using Tinder with fellow athletes to find dates during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. → Many Olympic athletes began to use Tinder for the same purpose, and this was also covered by the press. → That famous people were using Tinder gave positive impressions of the service to the general public. → Its usage grew significantly among ordinary people.

4. The changing attitudes about online dating in the Americas and Europe.

  • Statistics show that many in the US use online dating services:
    • National Academy of Sciences: One in three married couples in America met online.
    • Pew Research Center: 60% of American adults think that online dating is a good way to meet men/women.
    • Statistic Brain: 4.9 million of 5.4 million American singles have used or are using online dating services.
  • Westerners do not find it awkward to tell others that they met their partners online. → This open attitude contributed to public interest and popularity of Tinder.
    • Famous celebrities (e.g. Katy Perry and Hilary Duff) are public about their use of Tinder. → Tinder has released an exclusive version of its app (Tinder Select) for celebrities, company executives, and other high-profile figures.

⇒ This attitude towards online dating is completely different from that of Asia, where people tend to be ashamed of and hide the fact that they met their partners online.

III. Criticisms of Tinder

Since its release, despite its success, Tinder has also been the subject of much controversy.

1. Spreading prostitution and STDs

  • A major US media outlet warned, “Tinder has become a new pathway for prostitution, and the more Tinder grows, the more widespread STDs are.”

2. Lookism

  • Compared with non-users, Tinder users express greater dissatisfaction with their appearances, which can lead to lower self-confidence and, worse, depression.
  • Many celebrities voiced concerns that “Tinder is destroying the standard of the beauty in the US, which has been ‘individual uniqueness.’”

3. Encouraging shallow relationships and lowering human dignity

  • No matter how hard people try to achieve deep and personal relationships offline, Tinder meet-ups tend to be short-term and with semi-decent partners selected from an ambiguous group of locals. → The new term “Tinder version of law of large numbers in human relationship” has been created.
  • There have been reports of abusive language being used overwhelmingly more on Tinder compared to ordinary mobile messaging platforms (e.g. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger).

4. Filming without permission and invasion of privacy  

  • The number of Tinder users who are using the app to take illegal screenshots of profiles and photos is gradually increasing.
  • Those who are attempting to quit Tinder show the same symptoms of withdrawal as those who are trying to quit substance abuse.

To counteract the rising concerns, Tinder released its own research maintaining that the app does not cause inappropriate meet-ups or have a negative impact on society.

  • According to Tinder, its users are more interested in having serious relationships than casual sex. Users are also safe from STDs, as they are more likely to use condoms than offline daters.
  • After surveying hundreds of participants placed in one of three groups (Tinder users, users of other online dating apps, and non-users) about how long each person waits after the first date for his/her first sexual encounter, Tinder found no statistically significant differences between the groups. → The company concluded that the desire to move on to sexual relationships quickly was a universal sentiment, not simply for those who used Tinder.

IV. Korea

Mobile dating apps are also popular in Korea.

  • Approximately 170 mobile dating applications exist in Korea, and the most popular apps have at least 100 million users.
  • Approximately 3.3 million Koreans use mobile dating apps as of early 2017, and it has been found that half of all unmarried Koreans, aged 25 to 44, use mobile dating apps.
  • Popular applications and their distinctions:
    • Amanda - good looking users: New users get their appearances evaluated by 30 existing opposite-sex users to complete their registrations
    • Noon date - various functions with fun factors: Users can match with their ideal dates through games, meet two users of the opposite-sex every day, and promote themselves for free on bulletin boards embedded within the app
  • In 2016, three mobile dating apps ranked among the “Top 10 Sales in Non-Game applications in Korea.” The Korean mobile dating app market is surging to an approximate valuation of $50 million.

Nevertheless, the service and business models of Korean mobile dating apps are quite different from those of Tinder.

  • Theme:
    • Tinder: show an unlimited number of profiles based on a user’s location
    • Korean apps: serve as an “agent” that directly introduces users to men/women
  • Services:
    • Tinder: users look through many profiles to select their own ideal match, after reading others’ personal details
    • Korean apps: users have several ways to match. Offerings include: showing interest after viewing a profile; playing an in-app game together; and promoting oneself on the public board
  • Paid or unpaid functions:
    • Tinder: based on a freemium-system. Basic functions (swiping, opening profiles, starting chats) are all free, while features that allow users to better promote themselves to others or to match with those from other countries are paid
    • Korean apps: functions that are critical to matching (showing interest, opening profiles, starting chats) are all charged

⇒ Tinder’s basic functions are free, while features that increase a user’s chances of finding a match are charged. Korean apps encourage users to prioritize others’ appearances and charges a fee to participate in the app.

In addition, the perception of online dating services in Korea is drastically different from America’s.

  • Contrary to Westerners, who are open about online dating, most Koreans tend to think that it is inappropriate to meet others online and prefer to hide this fact. → Koreans hide downloaded dating apps on their smartphones, likely concealing them in secret folders.
  • A Korean business woman (31 years-old) [8]recounted deleting her account after using a dating app for two weeks: “I felt very embarrassed when I learned that a male colleague had recently started to use a mobile dating app. Koreans are biased against the use of such apps, especially when the user is a woman.”

What are Tinder’s success factors? How does Tinder compare with Korean mobile dating apps? What differences exist between the social perceptions of online dating services in Korea and the US? Will the Korean online dating market be as receptive to Tinder as has the US? Are online dating’s social benefits larger than its costs?

Please take this time to discuss this topic with your Ringle Tutor and improve your spoken English.

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