The location-based services explosion that isn't (yet)
Only 4% of Americans online currently use geosocial services, according to Pew Internet survey
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life project put some numbers on the location-based services revolution and finds that the revolution is, well, in its early stages.
Pew's very first report on "geosocial," or location-based services, shows 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."
That's not much, but obviously it's going to trend up. Meanwhile, Pew drilled down into the data, which was compiled from phone interviews with 3,001 Americans ages 18 and older, and found that:
* The age group that uses geosocial services the most are adults 18-29, at 8 percent. That's double the percentage of the next highest age group, 30-49.
* Men are twice as likely (6% to 3%) as women to use location-based services.
* Hispanics, at 10 percent, use geosocial services twice as much as online blacks, at 5 percent. Only 3 percent of online whites use them.
All that being said, Pew offers a sizable caveat with the data:
[T]he ability to report one’s location is a feature that has recently been added to many pre-existing sites such as Twitter and Facebook. It is possible that as the lines between different types of services become increasingly blurred, it is difficult for respondents to always pinpoint exactly what sort of software they are using—especially on their mobile devices. Our recent report on the rise of apps culture, for instance, found that 11% of cell phone owners are not sure whether their phone is even equipped with apps.
Even worse, 3 percent of cell phone owners surveyed didn't even know they had cell phones, and one was a time traveler who claimed to be the Foursquare mayor of 1928.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.