A recent study shows that users of services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places are somewhat unique within the mobile user system. They use more mobile media, and are typically early adopters.

Frequently in the news, yet still nascent in terms of user market share, location-based check-in services are gaining popularity in the forms of Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla, and others. As comScore found in its study of users of these services, 16.7 million US mobile subscribers use these services, hereafter referred to as LUs (location-based-service users).

Just 7.1 percent of the entire mobile population, 12.7 million LUs check-in on a smartphone, and amount to 17.6 percent of the total smartphone population. These check-in users differ significantly from other smartphone users - they consume more mobile media, including retail sites and shopping guides, and are early adopters compared to the average smartphone user.


“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.

LUs heavily skew toward younger age groups: 26 percent of the total mobile and smartphone audience in the 18-24 range, 32.5 percent in the  25-34 range - higher than total mobile or total smartphone users in both categories. LUs are also more likely to be either full-time students or employed full-time than the total mobile population.

More likely to access mobile media across most content categories, LUs nearly all use a mobile browser or apps. They are also more frequent users of news, restaurant info, online retail, seeing web and app ads, online retail, shopping guides and travel service. Two categories of particular note to comScore were tech news and tablet ownership - indicators of early adopter habits. In these two categories, LUs significantly surpassed the general smartphone user population - 27.1 percent of smartphone owners indicate that they read tech news, far surpassed by 40.3 percent of LUs. Similarly, 19.6 percent of smartphone users also own tablets, while 28.2 percent of LUs do.

By Ivory King