Applications which offer location-based functionality are proving very popular, especially among smartphone users. Most of these users are looking for location-based directions or recommendations.

In the United Statesadults are showing real interest in mobile or social geolocation applications. This is highlighted in a study by the PewResearchCenter’s Internet & American Life Project, which surveyed more than 2,200 adult Americans over 18 years old. As the authors of the study point out: "Even though Americans don’t necessarily communicate from the place where they happen to be, they still make use of their phones in other ways – i.e. drawing on location-based services." The study found that just under a third of those polled use these applications, whether from a PC or from a mobile phone.

Smartphone use boosts the spread of location-based services

Most of the time, people make use of these tools to obtain directions to, or information on, places in their immediate vicinity. The study shows that there is significant demand for such tools among smartphone users, with 58% of them using at least one of these services. But sites such as Foursquare or Gowalla still have a long way to go in sales terms: only 5% of those surveyed use them. But that percentage increases to 12% if we look only at smartphone users. The study also looks at user profiles. And, as one might expect, users of these services generally fall within the 18-59 age band.

Minority groups tend to make greater use of these tools

Less easy to explain is the attraction of these tools for “minorities”, a favourite term in the United States.Among Hispanics in particular, 31% of social media users use automated tags to indicate the location from which they are posting their remarks, compared with just 7% of Caucasians. However, we should stress that these trends cannot be linked to the entire range of these tools, as only 44% of Hispanics and 53% of the Afro-American population use location-based information, compared with 59% of their white countrymen. You may remember that in May comScore carried out a study on the same subject. At that time, according to the research company, only 7% of the total mobile user population were making use of geolocation services.