Making Sense of Location Based Services

Location Based Services stagnates due to “Privacy Concerns”

Privacy issues are inherently important in the adoption of certain technologies, particularly to Location Based Services. In 2003 a Context Based Research Group report highlighted the collapse of public versus private geographies referencing mobile phone use. Further research carried out by Driscoll (2002) highlighted that consumers would use location Based Services as long as the potential benefits outweighed the drawbacks and were receptive to the notion of location based advertising, if it was not intrusive and reduced their fees.

The latest Pew Report has brought to the fore that the adoption of Location Based Services by the consumer is stagnating as compared to other services such as video calling. Video calling on mobile phones is finally going mainstream, with usage increasing from 7% of cell phone owners in 2010 to 21% in 2013. But growth in location-sharing is fizzling badly, increasing from 5% in 2011 to just 8% in 2013.

This can be further contrasted by comparing income levels. Video calling grows in popularity the more money consumers make — it is used by 16% of people making less than $30,000 and by 29% of people making more than $75,000. Nearly all advanced mobile services follow this pattern; usage increases the more sophisticated the consumers get. But this is not what is happening with location-sharing services. Those services are used by 9% of people making less than $30,000, and just 7% of people making more than $75,000.

Certain other interesting variables have been highlighted in the report. Location sharing is apparently used less by the more educated consumers. The most likely issue is privacy with the more educated Americans are more likely to fret about the implications of sharing their location data.

This backed up by the following data. 10% of phone owners without high school diplomas are into location-sharing — but just 7% of college educated phone owners use related services.

Privacy has been an ongoing issue in the adoption of Location Based Services. With out a proper resolution where the consumer trusts this technology, Location Based Service will stagnate. Location Based Services is potentially the most relevant data that marketers would be able to use.

The next article will introduce Locomizer as potential resolution to the privacy problem.

Driscoll, C (2002, July). What do Consumers Really Think?.  GPS World, 13, p34-37

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