Are location-based services overrated?

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Please consider this…

“Despite the buzz around location-based services, I have been ambivalent, if not skeptical about the technology.As much as social media has encouraged people to share information, I have not been convinced there is the same amount of enthusiasm for broadcasting your location.There’s the issue of privacy, as well as few “rewards” for telling the world your location.

In many respects, however, being unconvinced about the potential of location-based services has been like a Don Quixote-like experience, particularly when you’re an enthusiastic member of the social media community. The idea that you don’t really buy into the next new thing seems almost sacrosanct.

It was interesting and, to be honest, encouraging to read Joshua Brustein’s column in yesterday’s New York Times about whether the excitement surrounding location-based services is being driven by technology companies and investors, while consumers only seem modestly interested.

Brustein’s column came on the heels of a Pew Internet and American Life Project survey that discovered only 4% of Americans use location services like Foursquare and Gowalla, compared with 5% last May. Even among smartphone-toting 18 to 29-year-olds, only 8% use location-based services.

It may just be that location-based services won’t be widely embraced. Or it could be that location-based services have yet to find their sweet spot. However you want to explain it, the reality is location-based services have failed to live up to lofty expectations as social media’s next hot thing.

Perhaps Facebook’s entry into the market will change things, particularly if consumers are attracted to the link between the company’s Places and Deals services.

Or maybe not. It could be that most people have no use for location-based services despite the best efforts of companies and investors.

After all, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” Source: Do Consumers Really Want Location-based Services? | Social Media Today

When I teach ‘curation’ as a form of blogging, I usually say that the author’s comment can be ‘yes, no or maybe so’. In this case, my response is a ‘maybe so’, but I’m leaning toward no. Let me tell you why…

Something like 87% of Americans have cell phones. Of that, 25% have smartphones. That number is projected to grow to 50% in 2011. The default mapping application on the two fastest growing platforms is Google Maps. Google just released a new product called Hotpot that makes it easy for patrons to write reviews directly on to Google Maps. Think about the implications. Say someone’s driving through Algoma, WI on their way to Door County and they’re looking for a place to grab a bite. They check Google Maps to see the options and as they try to decide, they check the reviews from Hotpot directly on Google Maps. Unfortunately, earlier that week someone had a rare bad experience at one of their choices. Do you think that won’t have an impact?

Michael Moon quoted Peter Drucker astutely in his book ‘Firebrands’ over a decade ago when he said that we’ve moved beyond the information age to the aged of ‘trusted relationships’. I believe that tech-savvy people with smartphones are going to change the face of American retail business by holding retailers accountable through mobile tools that allow them to report good or bad experiences immediately as they happen. These ‘trusted’ mobile ‘relationships’ will have the power to guide purchasing decisions at the mobile ‘point of sale’ like an endcap in a grocery store, directing potential customers to the ‘right’ place. Smart business owners will keep an eye on this trend…

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