Despite endless discussion about check-ins, location-based services and earning discounts because you’re the mayor of a business, it seems that the general population couldn’t care less about sites such as Foursquare and Gowalla.

A new study released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is sure to have sent shivers up and down the spines of investment firms.  In a study of 3,001 Internet users conducted between Aug. 9th and Sept. 13th, it was found that a mere four percent of respondents location-based services such as media darling Foursquare or Gowalla.  Some of the key findings of the study include:

  • 7% of adults who go online with their mobile phone use a location-based service.
  • 8% of online adults ages 18-29 use location-based services, significantly more than online adults in any other age group.
  • 10% of online Hispanics use these services – significantly more than online whites (3%) or online blacks (5%).
  • 6% of online men use a location-based service such as Foursquare or Gowalla, compared with 3% of online women.

The study went on further to break it down by age, income, education and so on, and none of it was exactly pretty.

Pew location study

The study went further to show that on average, the daily users are only about one percent, meaning that this very specific niche of social networking has gained absolutely no mainstream market penetration.  With reports that Facebook Places has already hit 30 million users, we may see an uptick over time, but that would require people in future studies to understand the differences between it just being a social network and being a location-based service.

This just goes to further prove what I and many others have been saying about the fact that location is a feature and not a stand-alone service.  To ask the general population to launch a separate mobile app every time they stop somewhere is not going to fly, but if they can check messages, set status updates and so on for a larger service they belong to, then they might get into it.

What say you?  Do you care about location-based services?