I must admit that I’ve been slow to start using location-based services for the mobile, such as foursquare, GoWalla and the recently launched Places from Facebook. The merit of checking-in to places I visit has so far escaped me. However, I’m coming around to the idea that I would like to get something back in return for generating social content around restaurants, pubs and various public places.
This formed much of the discussion in today’s panel at OMMA 2010 on whether or not geo-based services will finally drive media dollars to mobile.
Moderated by Microsoft’s Jeff Plaisted, five industry thought leaders gave us their view on how mobile might scale up to form an integral part of any media planner’s list of media to buy. The idea that LBS are just fun to use will need to be corrected to the notion that they offer practical solutions if adoption is to increase. All were agreed that there must be a value exchange between the consumer and the LBS.
(As an aside, here’s a great blog post on how Bing is integrating foursquare data)
One concern raised was that as the number of devices grows, the more difficult it becomes to scale the service to a broader audience. It will clearly become more expensive and will take more time to create an app for a Blackberry, a Windows Phone, an Android and an iPhone. However, research indicates that people who do check-in to these services are considered 40% more influential than the average person, so the effort should pay dividends.
Perhaps it’s time to stop calling every year the “Year of the mobile” and acknowledge that we will see continuous linear growth in usage of smartphones and of LBS.