Foursquare and the like still a niche

“Geosocial” services such as Foursquare may get a lot of buzz, but they aren’t getting a lot of use. A new study finds that on an average day, only one in a hundred internet users access such a service.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project interviewed 3,000 internet users about location-based services, those which allow users to track locations they have visited, leave reviews of venues, and find out whether other users they know are nearby.

The headline figure from the survey is that 7% of people who regularly use their cellphone to access online services are users of location-based services. That’s 4% of all adults with some form of internet access.

If you assume the main users are young men, you’d be right, but only just. The figures are 6% for men and 3% for women. There’s no explanation of why, though I suspect the competition element of features such as the Foursquare “mayorship” might be more appealing to men. But when it comes to age, 8% of those aged 18-29 use such services. When you take into account that the figure for all users is 7%, it’s clear that Foursquare and its competitors aren’t really any more youth-oriented than any other type of online service.

The most striking demographic figure is that use among Hispanic users is 10%, double that of black users and triple that of white (non-Hispanic) users. Income and educational background doesn’t make any significant difference.

The remaining conclusions of the survey were far more predictable. People who regularly use status-update based services such as Twitter were more likely to use location services. And people with access to the internet on their cellphones were also more likely to use them, while those with neither a cellphone nor a laptop with wireless use were less likely to do so. Well, duh.

Also, urban users were more likely to be on Foursquare and the like than suburban users, who in turn were more likely than rural users. That’s also to be expected: urban areas inherently have more tracked locations, giving more of a point to the service.

This is the second such survey by the group, and shows little significant difference since the first study in May, suggesting there’s been no major explosion in use. Of course, when you’re talking about such a low proportion of users in the first place, it’s harder to track as even a notable increase might be swallowed up by the statistical margin of error.

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One Response to Foursquare and the like still a niche

  1. This is one proof that location based services like FourSquare and Facebook Places are all hype. They are just making some buzz of it to entice small business without online presence to join the bandwagon and of course register to the service. Additional business registration means additional income for them.

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