-Tinder, a worldwide dating app, is a fire that can’t be put out.
“We sometimes think we want to disappear, but all we really want is to be found,” a saccharine comment on the internet claims. Indeed, everyone does get lonely and wants to be with someone. Even people who cherish their independence want to be loved by someone. And the number of people using online dating apps has been increasing as well to satiate loners. Unless technology in the future develops to the extent where it can erase the feeling of loneliness from people’s brains, Tinder may never be swiped left.
Tinder was rolled out in 2012 by Tinder Inc. whose parent organization is Match Group, a giant American dating website company which also owns OkCupid and Match.com. Research estimates, there are more than 50 million subscribers. (South Korea has a population of 50 million people.) Through its rising subscription numbers, it has become a household name in American culture. Conan O'Brien, a popular American comedian, made a comedy skit about finding his “girlfriend” (he’s been married for 17 years) through Tinder; celebrities “hijacked” strangers’ Tinder profiles to spoof on Vanity Fair YouTube videos. Arguably, Tinder has become the Coca-Cola of dating apps; not surprisingly, Match Group’s share price has shot up more than 360% since its IPO in November 2015.
Tinder’s strength lies in its convenience and practicality; simply put, users swipe left if they do not like the person popping up on the screen. They swipe right if they do like them, and they can also set up a perimeter to search for people in close proximity. If they like each other, they could start a conversation. While most of the users can make the most of the app for free, they may sign up for “Gold Membership” which gives them unlimited daily swipes and the ability to see who has liked their profiles. (Free users can only swipe 100 profiles right each day and cannot see who has liked them.) The number of Gold Membership users surpassed 4 million as of November 2018, according to TechCrunch. Furthermore, Tinder’s first streamed TV series “Swipe Night” is slated to be introduced on the app in early October, offering more entertainment to users.
Though it is the number one online dating app, Tinder still has a challenge: its expansion to the Asian market. Due to its weakening growth in North America, Tinder launched its app in many parts of Asia since 2015: notably South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and India. The underlying problem with marketing in Asia is its stigma against using online dating apps in general. Because of the stereotype about the app being a tool for "hooking up", people from Asian countries seem to shy away from using it. I remember the last time I hung out with my friends. One of them talked about potentially trying a Tinder-like dating app, but the others frowned upon him because that was deemed "weird". Reflecting the cultural difference, Tinder is not even in the most popular 100 apps in both Japan and South Korea, though it placed 40th in Singapore, according to App Annie, a mobile market data research website. On the other hand, Tinder in “more open” western countries like the UK, Canada, Australia, and the US is placed 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 8th, respectively.
Also, the launch of Facebook Dating has become another aspect that Tinder has to be wary of. Even with its decrease of popularity and novelty, Facebook is still in the top 20 most popular apps in the US and worldwide has a massive 1.59 billion daily active users as of September, according to Zephoria, a digital marketing company. And the latest news that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Match Group, alleging Tinder used fake accounts to scam users, has to be heeded as well.
Still, even at this moment, loners swipe left or right on Tinder to find someone and be found, rendering competition and legal pressures it faces irrelevant. For some people, the night is too dark without Tinder.