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Monday, August 30, 2010

Facebook Places - Good For Location Based Services?

A recent report from Forrester Research suggests that only 4 percent of Americans have tried location-based services, and that 1 percent use them weekly. The numbers also indicate that users of the service generally live in urban areas and are very tech savvy. “Ever since mobile phones and location technology got started, there have been conversations about the potential for doing something really incredible with this for marketers,” said Melissa Parrish, an interactive marketing analyst at Forrester. “But clearly the question is whether it has reached the mainstream, and it looks like the answer is no.” I think that I would also add, a big... not yet!

“Clearly location is not yet mainstream — it’s still a younger-demographic phenomenon — but if anyone can change it, Facebook will,” said Sam Altman, chief executive of Loopt. I'm inclined to agree with Mr. Altman. Consider how many many of your elder family members and friends who might have ever tried video games, now think of how many Facebook messages you receive regarding Farmville, Mafia Wars, and the like... who are the people associated with these requests? If your Facebook timeline looks like mine, it's the older less than technical folk. Additionally, while this is a very small sampling, my 16 year old asked me about foursquare recently. He, as you can imagine is truly tuned into technology and while he and his friends have largely shunned Twitter, foursquare has caught there attention and they are after all the Facebook generation.

In my mind it is business, large and small, that have to take the lead and make location based services more than a game that is played between tech savvy friends, and they will, over time. I can't imagine that phone manufacturers will start abandoning location, nor do I imagine that location based services will give up and go away. It's but a matter of time before we see the real value that location holds and when we do, look out.