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Find Out Why 4Square Might Not Be for You... Just Yet

Golden Corral

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I like seeing case studies about these new social media tech like 4square.

It offers two failures using the mobile checkin system and several successes. What can we derive from these limited case studies?
1. It must have something to do with location- one is West Homestead, PA, a suburb of Pittsburgh that I can not imagine is to permeated by iPhone carrying types. 
2. It must have something to do with what is offer or the physical location. The other "failure" was a Golden Corral near the RTP in NC. Despite the fact that you probably do have a large number of iPhone carriers within 10-15 miles, how many of them are regular patrons of a Golden Corral? And is being "mayor" of Golden Corral enticement for those people? 
The successes sited illustrate a plain truth:
"Most Americans still don't have smartphones."

New research from Forrester indicates that while cell phone penetration is high across all U.S. demographics (82 percent of consumers own a cell phone, and 73 percent report that cell phones are their "most used device"), only 17 percent of Americans own a smartphone.
 In fact, according to Forrester's figures, just under half of all U.S. mobile owners have internet access from their cell phone. So, since only 17 percent of U.S. cell users have a smartphone, this means that the vast majority of Americans who are able access the mobile internet use feature phones.
 Forrester found that social networking services are one of the least popular non-voice mobile communication functions: Only 14 percent of U.S. mobile users access such services from their phones.

Wow. Sounds like a narrow segment of the population would even be interested in 4square. But if that didn't narrow it down even more, the frustrating problems of using the internet on smartphones hurts the usage of such sites and program:
From emarketer:
According to a June 2010 survey by web performance monitoring firm Gomez, a third of mobile internet users in the US say their most common problem when browsing the mobile web is site formatting. Slightly fewer complained of slow load times, and nearly a fifth said the worst problem was with functionality.

But, you might say, not everyone is using just their cellphone, what about all those netbooks and laptops? Well the growth in their usage is only 8% over the last year.  Beyond not that many more people using their laptops on the go, doesn't the lack of mobility in laptops preclude them being looked at a "checkin" device for multiple locations. Granted, I'm sure plenty of people just sit down in a coffeeshop and let people know they are there, but I'd bet thats where the story ends.

But that isn't this digital divide isn't just mobile. For all the talk, we still have a huge gap in terms of the haves and havenots on this issue in landlocked homes. 

From Computer World
A survey by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shows that cost and lack of digital skills are the main reasons a third of Americans do not get high-speed Internet connections at home.

I have internet at home and a feature phone that allows me to text. If people can not get internet at decent speeds in their own home or afford to get smartphones, how do we expect them to get on board the huge changes being made and more to the point, should busiensses bother marketing to them?
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