Dating apps have more in common with nightclubs than with other tech products.
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Most people think that new and existing dating apps win because of their unique features. You know, like voice messages, video messages, who can start a conversation, etc.
Teams try and build something new, gather the best (in their opinion) features in one place and add some original ones. Then ship the product, and… it fails.
What makes dating apps really successful and popular?
Dating apps win not because of the best features, but as a result of building networks that are more attractive and effective than others. And features are one of the ways to do that.
One of the reasons Bumble was able to build a very attractive and vibrant community is that they didn’t allow men to start the conversation. This made Bumble a safe and primary choice for women who were getting a lot of unwanted attention on other dating apps. It also filtered the network from those who didn’t get any replies or didn’t want to follow these rules.
It is similar to a nightclub. Most nightclubs have similar features: music, bar, etc. People choose a certain nightclub not because of the better bar, but because of the community (other like-minded people, DJs, artists, etc). Eventually, when it a certain nightclub becomes too crowded, early groups of people who formed the community start looking for new places to spend time and connect. That’s when new opportunities open up.
The same logic applies to dating apps. They win when they can attract people with specific and similar interests and needs. However, with growth, they dilute this value and new opportunities open up.