Tinder to adopt Bumble’s ‘ladies first’ feature in a future update

Tinder will make a change to its dating app in an upcoming update that will allow women to message first, according to a report from MarketWatch this morning, which TechCrunch has also confirmed. The new option will allow women to choose when to start a conversation, but it will not be the default setting as it is in Bumble. Instead, women will be able to decide whether or not they want to enable it, we understand.

Currently, Tinder allows either men or women to make the first move after a mutual match has been made. This double-opt in design has made Tinder one of the most successful dating apps on the market to date, with now over 3 million paid subscribers in total, accounting for 30 percent of parent company Match’s revenue in 2017. While Tinder doesn’t detail its registered or active user base, its app has been downloaded over 100 million times.

However, Bumble has eaten into Tinder’s territory with its quickly growing dating app that claims over 26 million users. Tinder has also tried to acquire that company in the past. Given that Tinder is now going to roll out a very Bumble-like feature, I guess we know how those talks wrapped up.

The new option to let women start conversations is not yet live in Tinder’s app, but will rather be included in a future update. It will also be tested ahead of a public launch – as most of Tinder’s features today are – we hear.

Tinder declined to offer an official comment on MarketWatch’s report.

The decision to give the ability for women to control the conversation is something that newly arrived Match Group CEO Mandy Ginsberg believes should be a choice that Tinder users make, she explained, not something the app forces upon you.

“Often, women don’t really want the pressure of kicking off the conversation, but if they want it, that’s great,” said Ginsberg, speaking in the interview with MarketWatch. “Giving people the choice versus telling people how to engage is the big difference.”

Still, adding the option to Tinder could make it more confusing to know who should start talking, and will require Tinder to make some user interface changes to ensure users know who is accepting conversations, versus who will not.

That said, it makes sense to offer a setting, not an entire app, for something like this.

Not all women agree that being able to start the conversation keeps them safe from abusive comments; it often feels more like a gimmick, than any sort of protection. It also feels like something designed with traditional (aka heteronormative) gender roles in mind.

Tinder’s move to offer a Bumble-like option could have an impact on the so-called female-friendly dating app rival. According to App Annie, Tinder is more than 10x bigger in terms of monthly users and 7x bigger in terms of downloads in the last 12 months, versus Bumble.

Asked what Bumble thinks of Tinder’s move, CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd responded:  “We applaud any company making business decisions that empower women.”