User uptake of location-based services growing

  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 11 Aug 2010

Location-based services have taken the tech world by storm. Almost every technology blog is brimming with headlines about the rapidly growing trend.

In the real world, however, it’s a slightly different story. Awareness about location-based applications is still fairly low amongst the wider population of Internet users.

Those who are familiar with the craze have initially shown a great reluctance to join in, fearing the consequences of sharing their personal information with others.

But as companies such as Starbucks, Bravo TV, Warner Brothers, Zagat, and HBO in the United States awaken to the benefits of advertising with location-based services, users too have started throwing their concerns aside and posting their whereabouts for the whole world to see.

A report from eMarketer states that while check-in services such as Foursquare, Google Latitude and Gowalla have a relatively small market share in the social networking world (Facebook recently celebrated 500 million active users), two in five mobile users are tapping into their device’s geolocation features.

“Worries about privacy and safety abound, but the cool-and usefulness-factor [of geolocation services] seems to win out,” said eMarketer.

According to eMarketer’s research, people in the United States are extremely concerned about losing personal privacy, having their data hacked, letting potential burglars know they are not home and letting a stalker know where they are while using location-based services.

Despite these concerns, 19.2% of respondents reported that they checked in with their location-based social networks at least daily.

A July 26 report by market researcher Forrester paints a slightly different picture.

According to their findings, only 4% of adults in the United States have used location-based social networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla, BrightKite, Loopt and Dopplr; a measly 1% of Internet users share their locations through geolocation services more than once per week.

Another interesting fact to come from Forrester’s research is that a large majority (84%) of US Internet are unaware of location-based applications.

Both reports, however, state that young, educated males (particularly those aged 19-35 with a college degree or higher) are the most frequent users of location based services.

“Smartphone users who are already interested in social activities are at the leading edge in geolocation, and despite concerns of their own may pave the way for a larger audience to feel comfortable sharing where they are,” said eMarketer. — Relaxnews

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