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Checking In on Location-Based Apps

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Despite their intense hype, location-based applications like Foursquare are far from crossing over into the mainstream. In fact, the vast majority of mobile phone owners claim to have never used them.

And the buzz-heavy Foursquare isn’t even the most popular location app out there.

Those conclusions are based on a new study on the fast-growing, location-based application sector conducted by the mobile technology firm Myxer, which works with companies like Sony Music Entertainment to deliver music to mobile devices via ringtones and downloads.

Companies like Foursquare, Gowalla and most recently Facebook have been promoting applications which allow users to "check in" to various locations and businesses to earn points and rewards, and they can also use them to track friends' whereabouts. Yet according to Myxer’s BoomBox "check-in" report, just 11 percent of its 1,500 respondents have used location-based social networks.

Among those who have used location-based apps, a surprising 56 percent said they have used Booyah Networks’ MyTown, a fast-growing -- if under the radar -- app that has been compared to Monopoly, as users can "buy" local businesses and the like using virtual currency.

Coming in second was Loopt, favored by 12 percent of those respondents who report ever to have used location-based services.

Foursquare and rival Gowalla tied for third place, with just 8 percent of existing location-based app users claiming to have used these services respectively.

As for why 89 percent of respondents don't use location-based apps, 56 percent claimed a lack of interest. Meanwhile, just 14 percent claimed privacy concerns as their main reason for avoiding telling the world where they are at a given moment. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) reported that their current phones did not support such applications.