There is a lot of competition in the ‘geosocial’ (location-based services) space, but there aren’t many customers to compete over, yet. According to a new study by Pew Research, 4 percent of adults use LBS; 1 percent use these services on any given day. The main players in this field are Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook, which all use GPS-enabled smartphones to allow users to ‘check in’ when they arrive at any location, announcing to the world that they are there at Wal-Mart and proud of it. The apps often award frequent users with small prizes and badges to give the services an addictive edge to them and encourage users to check into more locations.
Pew found that only 7 percent of adults who browse the Internet on their phone use geosocial services. Worse, only 8 percent of adults 18-29 use them–the highest of any age group. There is a difference among races as well. 10 percent of online hispanics are geosocial, while only 3 percent of whites and 5 percent of blacks have used location-based services. And don’t forget the gender divide. 6 percent of mobile browsing men have gone geosocial, compared with only 3 percent of women.
Pew found these numbers by surveying 3,001 adults, 18 and older, by phone. It should be noted that there is a large margin of error (2.5 – 2.9 percent). With small percentages like these, such a margin could drastically alter the results.
This survey comes a day after Facebook announced a larger push into the geosocial space. The social network will begin allowing retailers to offer coupons to Facebook users–another incentive to use location-based apps. Groupon, a company that already offers location-based coupons and deals like this, also sweetened its incentives to retailers. Since launching Places, Facebook has effectively started a rivalry with every major geosocial application.
The question is: are they all competing over nothing? A majority of consumers may not want to use geosocial services, even with incentives to do so. Having said that, we wonder why didn’t this study cover teenagers under age 18. That age group might be using geosocial programs more than any other.