Pew Survey Underscores Importance of Location-Based Mobile Services
In recent years, smartphones have taken over as the pocket technology of choice. This is no surprise. We don’t even need a survey to tell us that many people use smartphones on a daily basis (Pew found that 35% of all adults, in fact, own smartphones, and that 42% of people own them).
The survey, entitled “28% of American adults use mobile and social location-based services,” therefore, doesn’t reveal anything striking with regards to cell phone ownership.
This is a graphic representation of the survey’s findings, from Pew’s website.
However, here are some interesting and relatively new statistics that many will find valuable in Pew’s survey results:
“Almost six in ten (58%) of these smartphone owners use a geosocial or location-based information service of some kind.” Geosocial services are those that allow users to “check-in” to their locations, while location-based information services include GPS Map programs (like Google Maps) and other phone apps.
“When it comes to other mobile activities, 59% of smartphone users use their phone to access social networking sites, and 15% use their phone to access Twitter.” Further, when it come to posting videos or photos on the internet, only 45% did this from their phones. I’m actually surprised at the low number of on-the-go Twitters, as the 140-character limit would seemingly indicate that Twitter is one of the more mobile friendly social networking sites.
That 59% of people accessing social networking sites, we might assume, are mostly accessing Facebook. And, since Facebook has been working on improving its mobile IPhone application and the security associated with it (we all know that the social network has been plagued with security problems), this number may even increase. The recent changes Google has made to its mobile version parallels those changes made to its desktop site, which many (including us!) conjecture have to do with Google +’s superior sharing and privacy capabilities. So, the new mobile version allows users to select who can see their posts and when. Also, Facebook’s location service is also improved on the phone version, so that users can say where they are and with whom.
“As of May 2011, 12% of smartphone owners (5% of all cell phone owners) use a geosocial services such as Foursquare or Gowalla to ‘check in’ to certain locations or share their location with friends.” The survey goes on to note that these services are more popular with younger adults (under 50) – there were also differences across income levels with regard to usage. This number is likely to increase with the popularity, among social networks and their users, of integrating them into everyday activities like status updates. For instance, Google + offers its own version of location sharing, and (possibly in response to the search engine’s growing network), Facebook continues to improve its own location check-in services.
As for broader “location-based services,” more than half (approximately 55%) of the smartphone owners surveyed use their mobile devices to acquire directions and other important information with relation to where they are located presently. The survey results add, “This was the first time the Pew Internet Project has asked about general location-based services, which can range from GPS –enabled map services to reviews of nearby attractions using an app or a browser.” There were differences across education levels and income levels when it came to who utilized these services, though in general that under 50 group used these location-based apps or services more as well – just like they did with geosocial services.
Google Buys Zagat, Emphasizes Importance of Local
Though some view the number of people (again, only a little over 1/2) utilizing location based services as small, Google obviously does not. Today, Mashable reported on Google’s acquisition of Zagat – the king of local reviews. Adam Ostrow, who wrote the Mashable article, said: “Zagat has reinvented itself on the web and with mobile apps, bringing it into competition with the likes of Foursquare and Yelp.” Further, Google’s VP of Local, Maps and Location Services, Marissa Mayer noted:
“With Zagat, we gain a world-class team that has more experience in consumer based-surveys, recommendations, and reviews than anyone else in the industry […] Today. Zagat provides people with a democratized, authentic and comprehensive view of where to eat, drink, stay, shop and play worldwide based of millions of reviews and ratings. For all of these reasons, I’m incredibly excited to collaborate with Zagat to bring the power of Google search and Google Maps to their products and users.”
Here’s the question: Will we soon see an integration with Dealmap, Google’s other recent purchase, to bring deals AND reviews to consumers in one place? Will both connect to users’ Google + profiles? This will remain to be seen.
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