In a short period of time, location-based applications have become common place to the point where most of us don’t even think about it when a search engine suggests a store in your neighborhood when all you typed was pizza. Location sharing sites such as Foursquare and Gowalla, however, still make some of us think twice. Some of us being, those who have been known to wear a skirt.
According to a study reported on by eMarketer, 77% of women said that when it came to using location-based services, they were concerned about stalking. Surprisingly 60% of the men shared their fear but it didn’t stop them being the most active location-based service users.
But could the difference in the usage be something more than privacy concerns? According to a survey by Telenav, more men than women have used a GPS while driving. (Though oddly, only 9% of men said they had no confidence in their own sense of direction.) This suggests to me, that women simply aren’t as quick to jump on new technology as their male counterparts.
One thing the survey did make clear is that people still have privacy concerns and there’s no easy answer to that. When a service asks us to send our current address out into the world over invisible airwaves, how can we not worry about how that information will be used and by whom.
There’s no question that personalization based on location is a helpful tool for both the consumers and marketers. But location-sharing services offer little more than entertainment, a chance to one-up your friends and maybe grab a coupon. Pew’s study from this past November says that only 4% of Americans use location-sharing programs. Will we ever get to the point where the majority of mobile users share their location on a daily basis? I doubt it. The risk to reward ratio just seems to great for everyone involved.