Location-Based Services: Nascent, But Growing

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 11-04-2010 Print Email
A Pew Research Center report finds location-based services are used by a small, but growing, number of Americans.

In its first report on the use of "geosocial" or location-based services, the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life project finds that four percent 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, one percent of Internet users are using these services, according to the Pew's research.

The report is based on the results of a telephone survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project conducted Aug. 9 - Sept. 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.

This is the second survey of the Pew Internet Project to ask about such location-based services. The current number shows little change from the first time this question was asked, in a May 2010 survey, when five percent of adult Internet users said they had used such a site.

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 (apps) on most major GPS-enabled smartphones or other devices. Some of these geosocial services emphasize social networking functions, and can notify friends on the service when the user is nearby.

Eight percent of all online adults ages 18-29 use location-based services, significantly more than online adults in any other age group.

"Wireless Internet users, unsurprisingly, are also more likely to use location-based services, especially those who connect to the Internet with their cell phone," wrote report authors Kathryn Zickuhr and Aaron Smith. "Seven percent of all adults who go online with their mobile phone say they use a location-based service, as well as five percent of all wireless Internet users."

The report found that 62 percent of online adults use a social networking site such as Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn. Of these social networking site users, six percent employ a location-based service. Twenty-four percent of online adults use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or to see updates about others, while 10 percent of these status update site users use a location-based service--more than twice the rate of the general online population.

For more, read the eWeek article Location-Based Services Used by 4% of Americans: Pew Study.


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