Microsoft’s Survey for Location-Based Services and Data Privacy

Did you know that last Friday was Data Privacy Day?  It sounds kind of geeky, but it’s an important reminder of the era we live in, where your data could be used in ways you’re unaware of.  As the enterprise and consumer sectors delve deeper into the realm of cloud computing, it’s necessary for everyone to consider the ramifications of what your data is, where it is and how it’s being utilized.

One trend that’s really emphasizing the contextualization of real-world cloud efforts is location-aware tools, delivered primarily through a consumer’s mobile experience.  Knowing where you are can really determine a number of things, like the type of search results you need, the recommendations for nearby venues, the people you’re most likely looking for, and the type of content you need delivered to your phone, be it discounts, news or concert schedules.  In this regard, the very factor of location-based contextualization brings the matter of data protection to the spotlight, leaving companies small and large to ponder the future of this exploratory ground.

Microsoft recently conducted a survey of 1,500 people in several countries including U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Japan and Germany to find out the trends related to location-based services and their usage by customers. The main motive behind conducting this survey was to find out the understanding about location-based services and how individuals’ concern about location tracking & privacy. Microsoft shared the results of this survey late last week, on Data Privacy Day, of all days.

Here are some of the important results that came out as the result of this research:

  • 84 percent of respondents are concerned about identity theft, data theft and sharing of their location data without their consent.
  • 43 percent of respondents are comfortable with the idea of using location-based services, provided they can manage who sees their location information.
  • 51 percent of respondents use or have used a location based service.
  • 94 percent of total users consider location based services highly useful.
  • Young respondents and those from United States & Japan are more comfortable in using location based services.
  • Young men of age 18-34 years in all countries are easy at adopting these services.

These results clearly demonstrate the potential of location based services, as well as rising security concerns of the consumers. If more security controls are given, people are comfortable with using these services and their benefits, which is a really positive sign for developers and app distributors, but especially software marketplaces now turning to mobile devices for delivery.

Lately, we saw some developments in this segment, such as acquisition of NearbyNow, a creator of mobile shopping applications for magazines, brands, and retailers by JWire as an effort to expand location-based media channel across Wi-Fi and mobile devices.This acquisition is going to JiWire access to NearbyNow’s almost 3 million mobile shoppers who uses apps from lifestyle brands including GQ, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, etc.

Location-based services are becoming a big opportunity, especially for start-ups. A recent Forbes blog post reported benefits of location service for B2B businesses and utilize the untapped opportunities. Location-based services (LBS) can help make more lucrative strategic business partnerships.It can help in lead generation by finding out who checking who is checking in the business events, understand competition by noticing changes in usage trends and finally utilize the LBS data to understand their customer’s interests.

Juniper has also made a positive forecast about Location-based service that it is expected to reach $13 billion by 2014 and $15 billion by 2015. And this is really is good sign for LBS, especially when they catch the attention of venture capitalists!