Geosocial Market Heats UpBy Samuel Greengard Print
The old rule of real estate -- location, location, location -- is increasingly important in the digital world as well.The battle for eyeballs and geosocial market share is escalating. EchoEcho, yet another in a seemingly endless barrage of apps, made its debut in early September, with financial backing from Google. It lets users share their location with anyone in their address book; when the recipient of a text message responds his or her location appears on, you guessed it, Google Maps.
The startup is taking a new approach to geosocial services. According to company co-founder Nick Bicanic, the app allows people to be found only when they want to be found while displaying real-time location information (rather than static check-in information).
Another startup, Blendr, lets people meet new people based on common interests, including entertainment, sports, language and profession. “Smartphones and location-based services have completely transformed social interactions, states Joel Simkhai, Founder and CEO.
Meanwhile, relatively established names such as Foursquare and Gowalla chug along.
But don’t get the idea that geosocial apps have conquered the mainstream. According to a recent study conducted by Pew Internet, only five percent of mobile phone owners rely on a geosocial services to check in with family and friends.
More than a quarter of all American adults—28 percent—use mobile or social location-based services of some kind. Moreover, only 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. That works out to seven percent of all adults.
The leading use for location-based services is getting directions or recommendations based on the user’s current location (28 percent of phone users and 23 percent of adults), according to Pew.
Interestingly, another Pew study from November 2010 found that twice as many men use location-based services than women. Some speculate that women lag men in the use of these services because they’re concerned about safety but also because they’re turned off by the competitive aspects of points and badges that participants earn.
The Economist magazine warns that businesses should take heed of the disparity and understand that these “inadvertent biases” may play into everything from advertising strategy to market coverage numbers and approaches.
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