What is wrong with current location-based checkin service?

Location-based check-in service came into prime-time of social networking in year 2009 with launch of Foursquare, a location-based social networking application for mobile devices, and then tons of other similar apps such as Gowalla (recently acqui-hired by Facebook), Loopt, Scvngr, Hotlist, and many more are trying to crack location-based services. Few of them are moderately successful but none of them have been able to get location-based services into mainstream of social network. Facebook too tried with Facebook Places (which is now simply called “Check In”) and has now integrated location as part of every Facebook action (status update, pic upload, etc).

Some related studies and articles which shed more light on location-based services:

“A much smaller number (5% of cell owners, equaling 4% of  all adults) use their phones to check in to locations using geosocial services such as Foursquare or Gowalla. Smartphone owners are especially likely to use these services on their phones.”

Response about automatic location tagging:

Forrester Research surveyed 37,000 people with mobile phones and found that the majority of them (70%) had never even heard about geo-social apps, though that figure is down from last year when 84% had never heard of these apps. Still, even among the 30% of respondents who are familiar with location-based apps, only a minority use them often.

Of the 5% who are active location-based service users, the survey found 2% who use the apps weekly, 1% use them monthly and another 2% use them less than once a month.

To find the reason behind failure of these location-based services, we did our own survey:

We conducted our own survey exclusively using our Facebook and Twitter friends and found a very similar and some astonishing results. The highlights of the survey are below:

  • Biggest concerns for the users is the privacy concerns with the location sharing, they think location-based check in is actually too much of sharing.
  • The survey highlights the fact that current location-based services doesn’t solves any problems (since user already knows where he is and where he wants to go).
  • No real incentives to check-in and there is nothing to do after you check-in.
  • 63.4% people said they will use check-in services if they get real incentives ($$) instead of cool badges.
  • More than 50% respondent agreed that check-in should be beginning of an experience and not end of it. You can think this as check-in in real world, for example checking into a hotel or an airplane is beginning of your experience and not end of it.

Below are the actual response to the survey questions:

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