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Technology Aside, Most People Still Decline to Be Located

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Location app

Elizabeth Aley of Nixa, Mo., uses the Shopkick app on her phone to earn reward points in return for visiting stores.

Mark Schiefelbein for The New York Times

Internet companies have appropriated the real estate business’s mantra—it’s all about location, location, location.

But while a home on the beach will always be an easy sell, it may be more difficult to persuade people to start using location-based Web services.

Big companies and start-ups alike—including Google, Foursquare, Gowalla, Shopkick and most recently Facebook—offer services that let people report their physical location online, so they can connect with friends or receive coupons.

Venture capitalists have poured $115 million into location start-ups since last year, according to the National Venture Capital Association, and companies like Starbucks and Gap have offered special deals to users of such services who visited their stores.

But for all the attention and money these apps and Web sites are getting, adoption has so far been largely confined to pockets of young, technically adept urbanites. Just 4 percent of Americans have tried location-based services, and 1 percent use them weekly, according to Forrester Research. Eighty percent of those who have tried them are men, and 70 percent are between 19 and 35.

From The New York Times
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