Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dating app innovation

There seems to be a clever new dating app, Happn, that tracks users' movement and pairs you with people who overlap. Clearly this is just the latest incarnation of the push to merge the online world and the real world (thank Grafedia), but the technology could have some interesting features if well-implemented. Craigslist's infamous 'missed connections' board was always very functionally cumbersome, and this app promises to improve the promise of that vision tremendously.

I do wonder if the app will augment existing power-users of internet dating, or appeal to more marginal users. Very high-quality users--attractive, outgoing, energetic--probably spend more time in public places and sampling new locations. Thus these users might be more present and available in Happn's algorithm. People who spend more time in routines or watching Netflix at home would be relatively less enabled by the app. In some ways, tracking users' daily movement provides a check on lying about how interesting and active they really are.

On the margin this app could incentivize some people to get out more and increase their geographic footprint. Also, I suspect some very small percentage of incredible success stories will be pushed by Happn's marketing. An undervalued or unknown spot in a city (perhaps some great reading perch or hard-to-find shortcut) that's trafficked by a select group of people could find themselves with a more special and deeper connection compared to the current 'profile and picture' strategy of most dating apps.

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