It's not just Foursquare, really, but all of these location based services that seem to be hogging all the press these days. This week, the press is not so good thanks to a new study put out by the highly regarded Forrester Research.
Forrester published the results of a new survey showing that only a pathetic 4% of U.S. adults online have ever actually used a location based mobile app. 84% of adult Americans have never even heard of them. If you are one of them, I'm talking about apps that use geographical positioning in mobile devices to target hyperlocal information to the user.
A typical location based service can be a map showing you where you are in relation to all the nearby traffic slowdowns around you on the roads. Waze is a good example of this.
It can be a targeted advertisement based on the user's exact location, like an ad for a nearby sample sale on handbags.
I use one called Locavore that allows me to opt-in my current location and I get a map showing me all the nearby farm stands where I can buy locally grown food that is in season, for example. I also get a list of what's in season in my area of the country and what will be coming to harvest soon.
It's cool stuff. Creepy if you consider the possible intrusions to privacy. But, I have to admit the possibilities make me dizzy. Many believe location based services will be the next big thing in technology. I don't disagree.
I also don't disagree with Forrester. It's still very, very early days. Only a small percentage of people are actually dabbling with these new services out there. It sounds like most people are blissfully unaware. I'm guessing there are also more than a few that actually are aware and feeling anything but blissful about it. This crowd would be more interested in protecting their privacy than finding a good place to buy a few ears of sweet corn.
Unless you are a company that has the extra cash to play with bleeding edge technology and a need to market specifically to young men (the group most likely to try a location based service), Forrester recommends businesses should hold off on LBS marketing opportunities until more people are using them.
Last updated: Jul 28, 2010
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio