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More than a quarter of Americans use mobile or social location-based services

September 6th, 2011

various smartphones More than a quarter (28%) of all American adults use mobile or social location-based services of some kind. This includes anyone who takes part in one or more of the following activities:

  • 28% of cell owners use phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location.
  • A much smaller number (5% of cell owners) use their phones to check in to locations using geosocial services such as Foursquare or Gowalla. Smartphone owners are especially likely to use these services on their phones, with 12% doing so.
  • Nine percent of internet users set up social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn so that their location is automatically included in their posts on those services.

Taken together, 28% of U.S. adults do at least one of these activities either on a computer or using their mobile phones—and many users do several of them. These figures come from a new national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and represent Project’s most expansive study of location services to date.

Location-based services on cell phones
 

All adults

All cell owners

Smartphone owners

Use a geosocial (“check in”) service such as Foursquare or Gowalla

4%

5%

12%

Get location-based directions and recommendations

23

28

55

 
Automatic location-tagging on social media
 

All adults

All internet users

Social media users

Use automatic location-tagging on posts

7%

9%

14%

 
Source: The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, April 26 – May 22, 2011 Spring Tracking Survey. n=2,277 adults ages 18 and older, including 755 cell phone interviews. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.

“Americans are not currently all that eager to share explicitly their location on social media sites, but they are taking advantage of their phones’ geolocation capabilities in other ways,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, Pew Internet Project research specialist and co-author of the report. “Smartphone owners are using their phones to get fast access to location-relevant information on-the-go.”

Several groups have higher-than-average rates of location service usage, including:

  • Smartphone owners – One in ten smartphone owners (12%) have used a geosocial (“check in”) service such as Foursquare or Gowalla, and 55% of smartphone owners have used a location-based information service to get directions, recommendations, or other information based on their current location.
  • Almost six in ten smartphone owners (58%) use at least one of these services. These are all well above the average for cell owners as a whole.
  • Younger users – Smartphone owners ages 18-49 are more likely than those over 50 to use either geosocial or location-based services on their phones. There are no significant differences among social media users by age in regard to automatic location-tagging.
  • Non-whites – Geosocial services and automatic location-tagging are most popular with minorities, continuing a trend of mobile connectivity that has been seen in other Pew Internet surveys.[1] Hispanics are the most active in these two activities, with a quarter (25%) of Latino smartphone owners using geosocial services and almost a third (31%) of Latino social media users enabling automatic location-tagging. However, though only 7% of white smartphone owners use geosocial services, 59% get location-based information on their phones, compared with 53% of blacks and 44% of Hispanics

Complete survey results.

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One Response to “More than a quarter of Americans use mobile or social location-based services”

  1. Smith says:

    I am one among the 28% cell phone users who use phone to get location based recommendations. I use myBantu to get recommendation based on my current location. It helps me find the local services. myBantu gives recommendations for a local search with map directions and user ratings and many other features. See http://www.mybantu.com/ for more info.
    http://bit.ly/r2f3Ik