In November, the website Geeksugar polled 150 of its users on their favorite location-based applications, or apps. The results came in with nearly half of the group preferring Foursquare -- at 47 percent -- followed by 17 percent for Yelp, 15 percent for Gowalla, 15 percent for Twitter, and 6 percent for Loopt. For November 2010, the results are typical, but the rise of Facebook Places and the numerous premonitions of Foursquare's demise indicate a vastly changed landscape for location-based apps in 2011.
It goes without saying that location-based apps are rife with opportunities for digital marketers, but, as they grow in number, it can be difficult to sift out the good from the bad. Here, four experts weigh in on their favorite -- and least favorite -- location-based apps:
James Briggs, CEO and co-founder of Briabe Media
When it comes to location-based services (LBS) I am a huge fan of Facebook Places. For me it is not about what the offering is today, but rather what Facebook can make it in the near future. My firm, Briabe Media, just conducted a survey of multicultural mobile consumers. What struck me is the rapid increase in the usage of social networks on mobile devices. We found that 90 percent of the study's respondents accessed their favorite social media sites on their phones. So much, in fact, that it is clear that social networks are now driving consumption of mobile data services such as Internet access.
Taking into account the frequency in which we now use our mobile devices to search for something or to get quick answers it becomes apparent that mobile search is the true opportunity for location-based players. In fact, a recent study found that mobile search queries have grown by nearly five times over the last couple of years and Google just announced an increase of mobile search of 130 percent over the past year alone. Taken altogether it is not difficult to imagine a savvy player, like Facebook, positioning to take advantage of this space.
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Given Facebook's broad consumer reach, Facebook Places is in the best position to get consumers what they want, when they want it on their mobile devices -- period. This is likely one of the reasons Google so aggressively pursued Groupon. Imagine if Facebook and Groupon combined and consumers are able to search for offers while on the go through Facebook's mobile interface. This would be an offering that could really alter the industry dynamics.
Overall, I am not a big fan of the current crop of "check-in styled" services. I don't believe they offer enough consumer value to drive mass adoption. One major flaw I see in this model is that there is a belief that over time consumers will desire to receive countless offers on their phone based on their location. I don't believe this is plausible due to the fact that the mobile phone remains such a personal space to consumers and this is not changing anytime soon.
Therefore, rather than bombarding consumers with offers based on their location, a much more viable model would be to efficiently deliver offers when they are sought after, and today the best vehicle for this is through a combination of mobile search and location.
Brett Barash, vice president, account director at BBDO.
Foursquare is the best LBS today, mainly because outside of Facebook Places, it's the most widely adopted. I like the way I can see tips from friends or non-friends in locations I've checked into. I've stayed away from Facebook Places because I'm not ready to announce my location to everyone I know that may or may not be interested. If someone opens Foursquare, they want to know where their friends are. The offers on Foursquare are also becoming great ways to get discounts on food, shopping, etc.
Recently I've also started checking into content. The app I've used most often is Miso. Again, I like the ability to see what my friends are watching on TV so that I can discuss a show or sporting event.