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Fewer than 1 in 5 smartphone users check in

Latest comScore undercuts eMarketer data from a week ago, says far less people use location services

Technology trends and news by Ronny Kerr
May 12, 2011
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/1a5e

Location-based services like Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla might be less used than we thought.

Only 16.7 million U.S. mobile subscribers used check-in services on their phones in March 2011, representing 7.1 percent of the entire mobile population, according to comScore. Out of all check-in users, just 12.7 million used the services on a smartphone, representing 17.6 percent of the smartphone population.

Shockingly, that’s less than half than the number reported last week by eMarketer, which says 39 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers use location apps.

We’ve reached out to both White Horse (from where eMarketer republished the data) and comScore for comment.

“Although still in their relative infancy, location-based mobile check-in services are seeing rather impressive adoption among smartphone users,” said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile, in a press release. “The ability to interact with consumers on this micro-local level through special offers, deals and other incentives provides brands with the real-time opportunity to engage consumers through their mobile device.”

Continuing with comScore’s data, one can learn a lot more about the average user of location-based services.

While mobile usage has pretty much smoothed out across all age groups and smartphones continue to become more ubiquitous, check-in usage remains tied to a tight age demographic: 58.5 percent are aged 18-34. Additionally, most are either employed full-time (46.6 percent) or are full-time students (23.3 percent).

comScore found no significant correlation between gender and usage of check-in services.

As far as smartphone platforms, the share of check-in service users mostly corresponded with the platform’s share of the market. Android and Apple led the charge, with 36.6 percent and 33.7 percent of check-in users, respectively. (comScore has them down as owning a 34.7 percent and 25.5 percent share of the smartphone market, respectively.) RIM, which ranks second for share of the market with 27.1 percent, only accounts for 22.0 percent of check-in users.

Young, full-time employees or students, and Android and Apple users--that’s who’s using location services.

Update: comScore replied, but they can't seem to figure out that discrepancy. They have, however, included their methodology:

The foundation of our MobiLens service is the continuous collection of consumer behaviour information. Using proprietary data collection methods, we survey nationally representative samples of mobile subscribers aged 13+. Survey fieldwork is conducted monthly and to ensure demographic representation. Recruitment quotas are set based on each country’s census demographic and geographic profiles for age and gender. The resulting MobiLens survey panels are nationally representative samples of mobile subscribers substantial enough to provide projected data for sub-segments as small as 1% of mobile subscribers aged 13 years of age and higher. The MobiLens’ sampling and survey methods undergo extensive analysis and market validation including comparisons to known network operator market shares, leading handset model shares, downloading activity, and other usage metrics. For 2010, the following represent the estimated monthly survey completes by market utilized for this report.

U.S.: 10,000 mobile phone owners

UK, Germany and Japan: 5,000 mobile phone owners

France, Spain and Italy: 4,000 mobile phone owners


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