Tinder is a mobile dating app that allows you to pick out those that interest you by swiping one way and dismissing those that don't by swiping the other. There's more to it but that basic action, along with the organization of content by cards or in small chunks, has gotten a lot of attention as a design choice. Next, a mobile music app for discovering indie artists started by a co-founder and former employee of Tinder, use swiping to dismiss or to like. It's nicely designed and a positive idea but, except for the Tinder connection and the design, it follows a long list of such startups, some still in the game, some long forgotten.
Tinder: Connect or Not
Tinder's dating app is getting a lot of attention because it's popular and that attention is focusing on the design elements.
Cards are one element. It's basically a way of organizing chunks of information in small rectangles rather than long streaming pages or articles or whatever else you might do with it.
Tinder presents you with cards featuring a possible date one at a time. You swipe one way to get rid of that card and the other to express interest. If two people express interest in each other, they can then connect.
Instead of having a long list from which you leave to check out one individual/piece of information and then return, you basically get a stream of cards but you can only look at one at a time and once you've said no you can't go back.
Next: Like or Not
Next, a mobile indie music discovery app, presents musicians in card form with 30 second video clips. You swipe one way to get rid of the musician and the other to like the musician.
You have to follow separately but a like is an expression of interest so I guess that's similar though the stakes feel a bit lower.
As Josh Ong at The Next Web notes, there are some glitches and the system seems a bit short of musicians to recommend but those things are likely to soon be sorted.
As he points out, Next was "created by Tinder co-founder Christopher Gulczynski and former VP of design Sarah Mick."
"There’s a stigma around the music industry that it’s notoriously hard to monetize. What we’re trying to do is circumvent that by growing a critical mass of people on the platform, by coming around the backside. If the 'music industry' wants to be a part of it, we’re going to force them to play nice...Next is always going to be a home for the person with a guitar sitting in their bedroom. It’ll never grow away from that. The core of the product will always be focused on the little guy."
The motivation is great but I've heard this from so many startups that came and went or have entered zombie startup territory that I know that even true passion is not enough. Sure, they can do all sorts of things if they build a "critical mass of people on the platform."
And that's going to be quite a challenge.
Next Faces Some Serious Challenges
Beyond the glitches Josh Ong points to two other big problems:
"The company’s generic name will also pose problems for how users will find it. When I search for 'next' in iTunes, it’s the 16th result on the list."
"After swiping through a handful of poorly-lit, out-of-tune cover songs on Next, I found myself longing for mainstream music. Maybe I just don’t have the necessary indie fan cred, but I suspect that the average user doesn’t either."
Despite this moment of attention, there's a lot riding against Next. But they also have a lot of resources available at the moment. I look forward to seeing what they do with them.