Usually around this time of year, single people are busy swiping away on Tinder ($MTCH), the current leader when it comes to dating apps. Historically (at least in its relatively short history), winter is a good time for Tinder and other dating apps.
It's called "cuffing season," and it's known as those cooler months when people tend to look for a companion to nuzzle up to in their warm nests. In the past couple years, this has resulted in a slight rise in dating-app activity that we've covered in the past.
But this year, something is amiss. Usage on Tinder is slumping even as we enter the heart of cuffing season.
Tinder usage rank via Facebook login
One could explain this as user disdain for Facebook ($FB). That's because the data we track here comes from Facebook login token rankings that Facebook publishes as a way for developers and marketers to track the relative performance of their apps on the platform.
As people learn more about the sketchy ways that Facebook has handled personal data — especially when it comes to third-part apps — it's possible that they've moved away from using Facebook login.
And keep this in mind: Tinder was the app that made Facebook login a thing. That's because when Tinder came out, Facebook login was required as a way to thwart bad actors on the platform.
But that wouldn't explain Tinder's very-recent best-summer ever, when it spent several weeks in July and August as Facebook's 2nd-most popular app. In fact, Tinder's app ranking has sunk 3 points — from 9 to 12 — since November. At this time last year and the year before it, Tinder saw a noticeable lift in December.
So is it just Tinder, or the dating app world in general?
It's possible that we're simply seeing a lull in dating apps — and Facebook login — in general. But when we look at usage rank data for Bumble, the popular alternative to Tinder, we don't see a noticeable drop in usage. Instead, we see a healthy jump in rank in November as we enter the holidays followed by a consistent user rank since.
Are singles dumping Tinder?
Before we cast off Tinder as yesterday's news, let's be clear: Tinder spent almost all of 2016, 2017, and most of 2018 as a top-ten app via Facebook login usage rankings. That's nothing to sneeze at. But the latest microtrend has sent the app out of the top-ten during a season that's usually very good for dating apps. That's akin to a florist experiencing poor sales around Valentine's Day.
Are dating apps like night clubs, perhaps? A night club is only as good as the A-listers that show up in its VIP lounge. Similarly, a dating app is only as good as the people looking to swipe. If Tinder is indeed seeing a lull in activity, users will drop off exponentially only to look for the next best thing.