Smartphone Owners: 74% Use Location-based Services, Only 18% “Check In”

Smartphone Owners: 74% Use Location-based Services, Only 18% "Check In"Nearly 3 in 4 smartphone owners use their phone to get realtime location-based information, but only 18% use a geosocial service to “check in,” according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.  This means that, out of the general population, roughly 1 in 10 Americans use geosocial apps like Foursquare (up from 4% in 2011).

Smartphone ownership has risen to 46% in 2012, up from 35% in 2011.  This growth has led to a near doubling in the overall percent of U.S. adults that get location-based information (including directions), from 23% last May up to 41% in February 2012.

According to a TNS study, access to location-based services is the mobile feature projected to grow the most on a global basis: 62% of those who don’t yet use the location-based services want them. And out of the six billion mobile users worldwide, nearly one-fifth (19%) are already using location-based services.

The Pew study also noted that geosocial (“check in”) services are considerably more popular with young adults ages 18-29 (23%) compared to adults smartphone users over 50 (14%). This generational difference remains even when location-based services of any kind are added into the mix, with 82% of those ages 18-29 using these services vs. only 66% of adult smartphone owners over 50.

One surprising find:  while higher-income smartphone owners were more likely than their lower-income counterparts to use location-based services (directions, etc), they were less likely to use geosocial tools to “check in.”

The Pew findings are based on a telephone survey conducted from January 20 to February 19 on a nationally representative sample of 2,253 adults. Click here to see the full study: “Three-quarters of smartphone owners use location-based services