Daily Dose of iQ: Only 17% Using Location-based Apps

May 04, 2011 — Allan Pulga

Last summer, I discovered Foursquare and it seemed like everybody was talking about its enormous potential for connecting businesses and smartphone users, with check-ins being broadcast across users’ social networks.

Ten months later, it turns out not many people are using Foursquare or Facebook Places. According to a new study conducted by Beyond and Mashable, only 17% of the mobile population actually use location-based apps.

“Of those opting out of participating in the check-in craze, or any other social location behavior for that matter, 48% cited privacy concerns as their primary reason for not doing so,” wrote Jennifer Van Grove of Mashable.com (May 4). And 50% were merely unable to do so because they did not have a smartphone.”

Some other highlights from the study:

  • 90% of active check-in users use Facebook Places; 31% use Twitter; 30% use Groupon... only 22% use Foursquare.
  • 40% of those who have never checked in would consider sharing their location with Groupon
  • 54% said they are motivated to share their location when discounts are involved.
  • Only 21% said badges or status rewards motivated them to check in; among people not using check-in apps, 99% said they do not consider badges or status as incentives for sharing their location.
  • Early adopters are more likely to check in at locations that sell food or drinks. The top places are restaurants (53%), coffee shops (40%), hotels (38%) and bars (36%).

From my personal experience, the findings aren’t that surprising. I’ve never checked in anywhere, nor have I felt compelled to do so. Out of the people I’m friends with on Facebook or who I follow on Twitter, I wouldn’t estimate more than 10% actively announce where they are via location-based apps.

It's remarkable that Facebook Places is the number-one check-in method, beating out Foursquare by a whopping 68%. This, of course, speaks to the ubiquity of Facebook and how much easier it is to adopt a feature within its mobile app than adopting something on its own. Sucks for Foursquare, though.

I think for this technology to move beyond early adopters and really take off, it needs to overcome the aforementioned privacy concerns and give people more of an incentive to check-in (i.e. bigger, more compelling discounts).

Location-Based Services to Influence 2012 Elections

Nevertheless, Foursquare has about 8 million users, and Todd Wasserman of Mashable.com wrote (May 1) that location-based apps could lend themselves to get-out-the-vote efforts, as voters can check in at any of the country’s polling stations and broadcast it.

“The major challenge for political marketing has always been getting voters to actually go to the polls,” he wrote. “In the past, get-out-the-vote campaigns have consisted of a combination of door-to-door, telephone and snail mail reminders. For a portion of the population –- say those over 65 or so -– this will still have to be the case, but for younger voters, an email plus a pledge to vote -– to be verified with a location-based check-in, will do.”

Topics: Retail Operations, Mobile Industry

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