After weeks of build-up, relationship-orientated app Hinge has returned to the dating space with a $7 subscription fee, having ditched the swipe in favour of new story profiles.
In a blog post announcing its relaunch, Hinge declared it wants to be the “Match.com for the next generation”.
The New York-based app, which was founded in 2011 and has raised $22.5m in funding, has been undergoing a product revamp over the past year.
Spurred on by the Nancy Jo Sales Vanity Fair article about today’s app-powered hookup culture, founder Justin McLeod felt “something had to change” with Hinge in December 2015, and set about rebuilding the product.
As he said in a blog post: “The mission at Hinge had always been to create relationshipsâ€Š–â€Šbut somewhere along the way we started contributing to superficial swipe culture.
“When we asked, our community agreed: Hinge was the most relationship-oriented of the free apps, but it just wasn’t different enough.”
And after a lengthy process of user feedback and market research, the team settled on the view that there was “no modern dating experience for people seeking relationships”.
The company said: “With clunky web based products like Match.com still incorporating screen names, and apps like Tinder letting everyone join regardless of intentions, we knew our community was craving a better, more relationship-oriented experienceâ€Š–â€Šand we believed we could deliver.”
The relaunched version of Hinge seeks to offer singles a more serious kind of mobile dating, one centered around creating real relationships rather than focusing on disposable swiping.
Part of this commitment to “serious” dating comes with Hinge’s new $7 subscription fee.
The fee is designed to do two things: boldly distance itself from competitors like Happn, Bumble and Tinder, while also ensuring its users are on “the same page” and more likely to be looking for something more serious.
And if this new paid direction is going to be a success for Hinge, this certainly feels like the kind of pricing that will achieve it, if the service Hinge delivers is noticeably better than its freemium competitors.
The other main difference to Hinge’s previous version is the introduction of new “story” profiles, and the removal of any swiping functionality.
The story profiles – which LGBTQ app Her switched to last year – also show personal information like education information, job details and mutual friends you might have, as well as letting you comment on other users’ photos.
Like “Instagram profiles for dating”, Hinge said these new profiles have driven 5x the conversations in beta testing.
Overall, Hinge says its new version has seen 2X as many people connecting, 5X as many connections turning into conversions, and 7X as many connections turned into phone numbers exchanged.
For future versions, Hinge wants to introduce richer profiles, added discovery capabilities by searching for shared friends, interests or experiences and deeper connections to help users take things offline.
Read more about the relaunch here.