Will most people ever really aspire to be mayor? The buzz surrounding location services is massively disproportionate to their actual use, says the NY Times—only 1% of Americans use them weekly. But will it remain a yuppie novelty?
According the National Venture Capital Association, $115 million has been injected into location-based services in the past year. That's a chunk of change. Services like Foursquare, Facebook's new darling Places, and Loopt have captured plenty of national attention, but have been received narrowly—80% of users are men, and 70% are between 19 and 35. But is that a problem? Not if you're an advertiser looking to get in on the location-aware action (like Starbucks and Gap), who covet the eyeballs of that prime demographic. But if you're backing one of these services, you're probably hoping for attention beyond urban geeks such as myself.
And it looks like most Americans simply don't care. Having an online presence tends to breed bloated vanity, but people are staying humble: "We go to playtime, the park and the grocery store. My life isn't exciting enough to broadcast where I am and what I do," says one woman who spoke to the Times. "I can't think of anybody who cares where I am every minute of the day except my wife, and she already knows," says another—a 65 year old freelance writer. "Maybe it's a generational thing. As we old fogies die off, maybe this will no longer be an issue."
The great generational die-off might be the best shot these companies have: "The magic age is people born after 1981," says a Loopt exec. "That's the cut-off for us where we see a big change in privacy settings and user acceptance." Or Facebook, whose Places is hailed by many location evangelists as the last push that will knock us all onto the social radar. Then again, being a male between the ages of 19 and 35, only six of my friends have checked in on Places in the past week. And I don't care about any of them. [NY Times]
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