Chances are you’ve heard of Tinder.
Maybe you’re even one of the thousands of people around the world who use the revolutionary dating app.
If you’re not, let me give you a brief overview. Tinder connects to your Facebook page to build a profile. It collects your first name, your age, whatever pictures you select, and your current location. Users can then set a radius, age group and gender – and then proceed to discover other users within their given parameters. A swipe left on a profile means “dislike” and a swipe right means “like”; if both people swipe right, you’ve got a “match” and the conversing can begin.
Until early this week, Tinder was absolutely free. No restrictions, no advertisements. Now, that’s changed.
Tinder announced the release of Tinder Plus, which they call a “premium addition to the Tinder experience”. The new “passport” feature allows users to search in different cities and “rewind” lets you reverse a swipe. Sounds great, right? For $9.99 a month, it’s all yours. And if you don’t want to spend 10 bucks a month, just don’t buy it…
….is what you’d think. But here’s the caveat: if you don’t upgrade, the amount of swipes or “likes” are limited, and once you’ve reached the limit, you’re basically blocked from liking or swiping for 12 hours. Social blackmail? I think so.
Oh, and it gets worse. If you’re over 30, you’ll pay $19.99 a month. In other words, you’re penalized for raising the average age.
Needless to say, the Twittersphere isn’t too happy about it:
— Xander Jarowey (@XJarowey) March 3, 2015
So, what happened here?
Since being released in September 2012, Tinder has grown into a huge network: over 50 million users generate 1.6 billion swipes and 26 million matches per day. That’s a lot! To be honest, I’m not afraid to say that I know quite a few couples that met on Tinder. Whether or not you’re an advocate of online-dating, there’s little evidence to suggest it isn’t popular.
In fact, now it’s so popular that the owners have decided to make money with it – and that’s a common trend. Many apps that market themselves with being “free” offer in-app purchases, and (popular) apps that used to be completely free are slowly but surely transitioning into monetized versions.
Tinder is a prime example. It gave you an appetizer for 2 years; if you want the full meal, you’ll have to pay for it.
There’s Money To Be Made Everywhere.
Even Facebook, one of the flagship social networks, gives users the option for in-app purchases. Whether it’s advertisements that include the “buy” button or simply buying credits for a game – Facebook has found a way to make money from users.
Shazam, the popular music recognition app, let’s you not only recognize the track – but can also redirect you to iTunes so you can purchase it immediately.
LinkedIn – both online and on mobile – is free at first, but the premium options are available only with a (pricey) subscription.
And games with upgrades and in-app purchases? Well, there’s too many to list. Some of them are even backed by national TV advertising campaigns.
Weight It Out: Advertise or Monetize?
Sure, there are plenty of apps out there that are free, and that don’t pester you with in-app purchases. But this is America. This is the land of opportunity. And those opportunities are – more often than not – dictated by money.
So, when you’ve developed a popular app that thousands of people are using, you’d be stupid not to grasp the chance of making bank – whether that be with advertisements or by charging for using it – and that’s exactly what Tinder is doing.
The problem? Many people used Tinder as a matchmaker for the simple fact that it was free. Let’s see how long it’ll last now that they’ve messed with one of their strengths.
At EPIC, we work to make our clients profitable. The key is to walk the fine line between making money and keeping your customers happy. I say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.