Check-in services could either become the “killer app” to act a central hub for all location-based services business models; or they might end up as a simple flash in the pan. Regardless of which, some new research indicates that check-in services — apps like Foursquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla that let users chart their physical locations — are still relatively niche when taken across the majority of mobile users.
The research, from comScore (NSDQ: SCOR), found that in the U.S. in March, 16.7 million people used check-in services on their mobile devices. But that’s not actually a very big number: it works out to only 7.1 percent of all mobile users.
Taking the smartphone segment on its own, the proportion is bigger, but not massive: 12.7 million of that 16.7 million total checked in using a smartphone; that works out to 17.6 percent of all smartphone users.
Unfortunately, we don’t know from this research (link here) how fast these numbers are growing, and comScore does not spell out which service is the most popular at the moment. (Foursquare, which effectively pioneered the market, has had an early start on it and reported seven million registrations in Feburary.)
What we do know is that, as befitting for the most popular smartphone platform in the U.S., Android is the most popular platform for those checking in (36.6 percent of all check-ins). It is followed closely by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) (33.7 percent); RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) had 22 percent and the other platforms each accounted for less than five percent.
And as you would expect, those eager to use their devices for check-ins tend to be the types that use their devices for all sorts of other services: in all areas of mobile content usage — be in restaurant look-ups, app and tablet usage, or news consumption — check-in users scored higher than others. The majority of check-in types (although not all) are under the age of 34.