New Pew Research report- Location based services used by only 4% of online adult users in US

Posted on November 8, 2010


So location based services have not ‘caught’ on according to new Pew research information. Or have they? The reality is that not many Americans are utilizing these services and the cash from advertising has not poured in- yet. although usage is small, there are indications that Geo-location based social site service will eventually be part of many users every day mobile experience.

Last week Pew Research released its first report about geo-location based service usage in the US. Not surprisingly, the results of usage were rather small, only 4% of online adults use a location-based service such as Foursquare or Gowalla that allows them to share their location with friends and to find others who are nearby.

This report is based on the results of a telephone survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project conducted between August 9 and September 13, 2010. The survey was administered to a sample of 3,001 adults, age 18 and older, using a combination of landline and cellular telephones. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The sample margin of error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for the general population and plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for internet users

(Pew Research) In its first report on the use of “geosocial” or location-based services, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project finds that 4% of online adults use a service such as Foursquare or Gowalla that allows them to share their location with friends and to find others who are nearby. On any given day, 1% of internet users are using these services.

Location-based services such as Foursquare and Gowalla use internet-connected mobile devices’ geolocation capabilities to let users notify others of their locations by “checking in” to that location. Location-based services often run on stand-alone software applications, or “apps,” on most major GPS-enabled smartphones or other devices.

Key findings include:

  • 7% of adults who go online with their mobile phone use a location-based service.
  • 8% of online adults ages 18-29 use location-based services, significantly more than online adults in any other age group.
  • 10% of online Hispanics use these services – significantly more than online whites (3%) or online blacks (5%).
  • 6% of online men use a location-based service such as Foursquare or Gowalla, compared with 3% of online women.

(NYT) Technology companies, venture capitalists and retailers have expressed no small amount of enthusiasm for location-based Web services, which allow users to “check into” locations in order to connect with friends or cash in on special offers from businesses.

It is not clear whether the people who would actually be checking in share that excitement.

The number of people using location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla remains small, and does not appear to be growing, according to a report published Thursday by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

On any given day, 1 percent of adult Americans use a service that allows them to share their location, according to the report. Four percent of adult Internet users use location-based services at all, down from 5 percent of Internet users who said they used such services in May. Only 6 percent of people who use social networking sites also used location-based services.

People using location-based services fit the profile of any early adopter of new technologies, said Kathryn Zickuhr, the author of the report.

Men were twice as likely as women to use location-based services, and people between 18 and 29 years old were more than twice as likely to use them as any other adult age group. The Pew report did not include data on teenagers.

Ten percent of Hispanics reported using location-based services, compared with 5 percent of blacks and 3 percent of whites.

Ms. Zickuhr said she was surprised at how companies building location into their business plans seemed to be far ahead of people using such services in their day-to-day lives.

But the report’s findings may mostly serve as a baseline from which to measure the impact that Facebook will have on location-based services. Pew interviewed 3,001 adults between Aug. 9 and Sept. 13. On Aug. 18, Facebook introduced Places, which incorporated aspects of Foursquare and Gowalla.

“It is possible that Facebook will help bring location into the mainstream,” said Ms. Zickuhr, referring to Places. “It would not be surprising to see if that helps people get used to it.”

On Wednesday, Facebook released a series of new features related to its mobile efforts.

The Pew report notes how quickly technologies like these can go from obscurity to mainstream use. In August 2008, for example, 6 percent of adults used status-updating services like Twitter. By September 2010 that proportion had quadrupled.