Location based services losing their track?

By SiliconIndia   |   Tuesday, 31 August 2010, 03:14 Hrs   |    1 Comments
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Bangalore: Facebook became the latest entrant in the world of location based web services when it introduced its location-based functionality 'Facebook Places' few days back. With 'Places', Facebook joined the league of Google, Foursquare, Gowalla and Shopkick - companies that offer services through which people can share the report of their physical location online.

However, these location based web services are not finding many takers. The adoption of these methods has so far been limited to the young, tech savvy crowd.

A Forrester research reports that a mere four percent of Americans have tried out these services and only one percent uses them on a weekly basis. While 80 percent of the people using the location services are men of which 70 percent are aged between 19 and 35.

Melissa Parrish, Interactive Marketing Analyst, Forrester said, "Ever since mobile phones and location technology got started, there have been conversations about the potential for doing something really incredible with this for marketers. But clearly the question is whether it has reached the mainstream, and it looks like the answer is no."

Foursquare, for instance, which allows people to 'check in' to public places has about three million users, majority of who are urbanites.

However, it is predicted that with Facebook's Places, the location sharing could get popular, if the trend catches on with the 500 million users of Facebook.

Sam Altman, Chief Executive, Loopt said, "Clearly location is not yet mainstream - it's still a younger-demographic phenomenon - but if anyone can change it, Facebook will."

Some users are apprehensive of using the location sharing services saying it crosses a line of privacy. Stephanie Angelucci, 30, said, "I don't like broadcasting where we are or when my husband's gone, just for safety reasons."

With VCs having invested around $115 million in the location start ups last year, the falling interest toward the services spell doom for the companies. The companies need to think more than just the services, and add incentives to them in hope of attracting and retaining a larger audience.

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