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“Vanilla” Hook-Up Apps are Now Passé. Welcome to the Lucrative World of Fetish Apps

By Nicole Buckler

With 50 Shades of Grey normalising bondage, something else is also getting normalised… fetish apps.

In fact, such “kink” apps are roaring to the top of the most-downloaded lists. Currently, the world’s most popular kink app, called Whiplr, has hit one million downloads and counting. While it is free to download the app, the pricey in-app services are proving to be very profitable.

Whiplr is an S&M Tinder. Users set up a profile, choose in what way they are kinky, and wait for a response. The good thing about this app is that you can make contact and calls within the app, so you never have to share your personal details with anyone, like your phone number or email address. Once you are up and running, you can meet other weirdos in your area, or in whatever city you are visiting at the time.

The app also allows users to find events that match their fetishes, like bondage nights in clubs, or just meet-ups with other like-minded perverts.

If you are into being dominated, for example, you can expect chat-up lines such as, “I don’t know whether to adore you and take you shopping, or to spank the hell out of you.”

Sounds all rather “Christian Grey” to me, and you know how profitable that whole shebang was.

Speaking of Christian Grey, people worldwide are preparing themselves to watch their fantasies on the silver screen with 50 Shades Darker being released this week in cinemas. In the background, Whiplr allows people to actually live out such fantasies in real life. Anyone over 18 can download the fetish app, from novices to veterans and the ‘just curious.’ Interested? Here are some ads for the best-selling app.

Users are severely limited from using all of what the app offers unless they subscribe to Dekadom. This is a service that opens up unlimited messages, profile views and other functionality. But that’s the good thing about fetish apps. Niche products can sometimes be more profitable than mainstream ones if everyone who likes that fetish all congregate at the one app.

While fetish apps are rising up the tables, normal dating apps are still the masters. Tinder, a “vanilla” dating app, is as popular as ever. Over 50 million people are using the service daily. It is now making itself some serious money, via a plethora of extras that users can pay to utilise.

While Tinder is the overlord, its challengers are growing. It’s not just Whiplr that has been downloaded a million times. Here are some more apps for people with singular tastes.


Feeld (previously called 3nder) is a location-based social discovery service application for iOS and Android. It facilitates communication between people interested in polyamory, kink, and alternative sexual preferences such as more than one partner at once. 3nder was launched in the UK in July 2014 and in the US in 2015. As of August 1, 2016, it had had over 1.6M downloads on iOS.

Vanilla Umbrella

This is an app that so far has 500,000 downloads and growing. It’s an invite-only dating app for the kink and fetish community. It is super-private and they bang on about providing a safe environment. The website looks a little dodgy, but it is really just a landing page to direct you to the app. It is designed by women for women and “genuine men.”


If you have a red room of pain in your house, then you may be interested in this. This is the app for those who are having trouble finding that special person to hit you while you lie on a bed of balloons, or whatever. The interesting thing about this app is the news feed, where you can chat publicly or privately with other members. The app has been downloaded around 100,000 times.

I once argued that porn websites are now mainstream. And so it seems that fetish apps will soon be a mainstream thing as well. Welcome to a brave new world. And welcome to the app makers who plan to harness this brave new world for profit.

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