|Tinder Application on iOS|
Whenever two people independently indicate their interest in one another, they're invited to start an awkward conversation. You can think of it like virtual speed-dating, in that the general idea is to pick out the people to whom you're attracted, all while hoping that they do the same after seeing you. The program is free, but non-paying users are limited in the number of "Likes" that they can dole out.
If you spend enough time on Tinder, though, you'll start to notice an interesting trend.
When you first install the application, you'll discover a diverse rainbow of people on your screen. Folks of all appearances and from all walks of life will be presented to you, and only few of them will be obvious robots. You'll see scores of women standing in front of Machu Picchu, crowds of men looking constipated as they not-so-subtly flex, and hundreds of both genders whose interests include "live music," "adventures," and - perhaps most descriptively - "fun." If you're not completely desperate for companionship, you'll wind up dismissing far, far more people than you'll want to contact... right up until the moment when, all of a sudden, everyone starts to seem appealing.
That sudden shift is where the true genius of Tinder's business model lies. My guess is that as you swipe through the first several dozen potential paramours, the application slowly gathers data about your preferred "type." Then, once some hidden algorithm has gotten a handle on the sort of person who "starts your lawnmower," so to speak, it shows you a group of users that you're likely to find appealing. Your activity is accounted for, too, so that you're finally presented with someone who could very well be your soul mate at the exact moment when you run out of "Likes."
Not wanting to miss out on true love (or maybe just mind-blowing sex), you pay for the premium version.
Now, none of this is necessarily true, but it wouldn't be too terribly difficult to pull off. Even if Tinder isn't employing this kind of system, then it's almost guaranteed that other mobile applications are doing something remarkably similar. For instance, marketing companies can tell exactly how long someone has watched an online advertisement, and can even target similar commercials at the times when they'll be most effective.
They know what you want to see, even before you do, simply by analyzing your previous activity. We all give away an absolutely astounding amount of personal information, and we've gotten to the point where we don't even notice the patterns being employed against us. All it takes is a little bit of entertainment or efficiency, and we're hooked, simply because convenience is king.
Or in the case of Tinder... because sex sells.