When it comes to things like Foursquare, I guess you could call me a square. I've never checked in with the geo-social service, or on any others. I just never saw the benefit of doing that, aside from letting industry insiders know how up-to-speed I am, or perhaps, letting local burglars know when I'm away from home. Why am I telling you this? Because it seems I am not alone. For all the industry hype surrounding geo-social services, most people just don't get them, according to a new study released today by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
The study finds that a significant percentage of American adults -- 28% -- have used "some kind" of mobile or social location-based services, but the vast majority of those uses have been for navigation or recommendations, not to let your social graph know exactly where you happen to be plotted at that very moment. In fact, 23% of adults have used their mobile phones to get directions or recommendations, a pretty practical app, if you ask me, and one that is bound to grow with mobile usage.
Check-in services, including Foursquare and Gowalla, by contrast, aren't so popular. According to Pew, just 5% of mobile phone users and 4% of all U.S. adults, use them on their phones, while 9% of Internet users (7% of total adults), use social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to update their friends on their current location.
"Americans are not currently all that eager to share explicitly their location on social media sites, but they are taking advantage of their phones' geo-location capabilities in other ways," says Kathryn Zickuhr, Pew Internet Project research specialist and co-author of the report, which Pew said is the largest of its kind. "Smartphone owners are using their phones to get fast access to location-relevant information on-the-go."