Is anyone actually checking in?

A CNN piece alerted me to a Pew Research study on the penetration of checkin apps, and claimed that only 4% of people in the US have actually used a checkin app.

I’ve been thinking about checkin apps for a while, mainly because I’m slowly using Foursquare less and less as time goes by. I’m finding it slow (although I think my ancient iPhone is part of the problem), that it doesn’t really fit into my workflow (i.e. my friends and wife think it’s annoying that I always have to pull out my phone whenever I go into any store) and to be totally honest, am not getting enough utility out of it anymore.

I was worried that this study was going to only include landline phones, but they somehow included cell phone users in the study. (see my older piece on landlines vs. cellular congestion). So there could be some interesting data in the piece.

Here is some cool information from the survey:

24% of online adults use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or to see updates about others. Ten percent of these status update site users use a location-based service, over twice the rate of the general online population.

twitter penetration

twitter penetration

The other chart I found interesting shows a funny barbell in terms of education – less educated and more educated people checking more often (note this is not statistically significant but I’ll pretend that it is.) And middle of the road income people checkin more than higher income people – but again, not stats significant and may be a function of the age – younger people also make less $ so this may be the cause.

% of people who checkin by demo

% of people who checkin by demo

Anyways, cool research by the Pew people.

And here is some citation stuff per the Pew’s terms of use:



Author: Healy Jones

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  1. Great thoughts, Healy. I asked Den Crowley once, "What is the value of a check-in?" and he didn't really have a satisfactory answer. As people recognize less and less value – immediate, tangible value, not long-term pie-in-the-sky value like "mayorship discounts" – they will migrate from the FourSquares and GoWallas of the world to either SCVNGR – which purports to give immediate rewards for tasks completed – or to no check-ins at all.

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    • So what do you think? How much further can checkins penetrate in their current model? Or are you suggesting a big-time change in "value/functionality" of a checkin is required before checkins go mainstream?

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      • That's exactly what I'm suggesting. If "Location-Based Services" were anything more than a game, the value would be there for anyone with a smartphone. But right now, FourSquare, GoWalla, SCVNGR… they're all games, and a game can never provide the value necessary to get a ton of traction outside of the tech community and its "suburbs."

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    • I'll admit that I used to use FourSquare. Nothing happened to MAKE me stop using it… I simply stopped thinking about checking in whenever I went somewhere. There isn't really anything out there to remind me to do it.You are right though- if I had a real reason to check in (like a coupon or discount that ISN'T just for the mayor) I would definitely make more of an effort with it.

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