For a couple of years now, we’ve been told that location-based services — applications that let you check in when you arrive at a club to let all your friends know where you are — are the next big thing. Foursquare, the two-year-old leader in this space claims more than 10 million users worldwide and is raking in venture capital as it positions itself for an upcoming initial public offering.
But here’s the reality check. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, although 28 percent of U.S. adults use mobile or social location-based services of some kind, only 4 percent use their phones to share their location via check-ins, and just 7 percent have set up social networking services like Facebook and Twitter to include their location in status updates.
The survey does find that people do offer up their location when looking for directions or recommendations for nearby restaurants — 23 percent of all U.S. adults have done that. But the fact is they’re far more likely to include their location as part of a tweet or Facebook status update than to go to the trouble to “check in” when they arrive at a destination.
The numbers are a bit more optimistic outside the U.S., but it seems clear that most Americans, including smart phone addicts who love to play with apps and all the latest bells and whistles, have better things to do than share their current location with anyone else.