Love me Tinder... what price 'appy ending?
As the mobile matchmaker launches a premium arm, what does it actually take to survive in the crowded dating app market?
Two-and-a-half years after its launch, Tinder has unveiled a premium service, offering upgraded features in exchange for £3.99 a month for 18 to 27-year-olds or £14.99 for over-28s. Called Tinder Plus, it uses the same geolocation-based interface (users have to "swipe" photos left or right to indicate their interest) plus two new most-requested facilities.
The Passport feature allows you to change your location without leaving home - handy if you want to plan a holiday hook-up before you've even arrived.
The second feature wants to put an end to that excruciating face-palm moment when you accidentally swipe left (dismiss) a stone-cold babe and spend the rest of the day rueing your hasty mistake.
The Rewind button lets you reverse your last decision and breathe a sigh of relief that another one didn't get away.
But alongside the new tools, Tinder has also limited the number of times you can swipe right to like someone in one day.
The limitation was quietly referenced at the end of a blogpost announcing the other two features: "The validity of the swipe is core to the Tinder experience. Tinder works best when swipes are genuine reflections of a user's desire to connect."
That means guys (it is overwhelmingly men) who play a numbers game by swiping right on every single profile have had their strategy curtailed.
But the Tinder founders have said in the past it's a very limited few who do and their main aim is to deter spammers.
Does that mean there's a gap in the market for a free Tinder-style app that offers unrestricted access?
Well, actually, it already exists and the bods at The Grade (www.thegradedating.com) say they've seen a spark in sign-ups since the Tinder Plus roll-out. Other matchmaker apps are popping up all the time.
The latest is Spark (www.spark.london).
A bit like Happn, which shows matches only when users are near each other, Spark works via Bluetooth rather than wifi and you can only send one free "spark" a day, so you have to be discerning.
It's a quality-versus-quantity approach mirrored by Tinder's new restriction, but will the paid-for upgrade be the death of Tinder?
In short, no. The cap on likes is unlikely to deter the vast majority of the estimated 50 million Tinderers.
Prolific swipers aged 28 years and over may be dismayed by the new costs, but it'll take a lot more than than a £15 charge for most people to give up on something they view as priceless - ie love.