Android mobile owners in the UK will be pleased to know that location based social networking apps have begun to improve and increase in the number of users. In the past few weeks, top location based social networks such as Brightkite and Foursquare have really improved the quality and details of UK locations.**
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It is a problem of user experience that meant many of these services had few UK users and no UK points of interest. It has been a ‘crying-shame’ or an indictment of the mobile apps industry to focus ‘within’ their country of origin during launch, while leaving their websites and apps ready for for international users to signup and login. This meant potential users were really locked out (ie Twitter was pointless in the UK as there was no UK mobile operators)

After studying several of these location based services during the past 3 months - it appears that Foursquare is currently ahead of Brightkite in terms of users and engagement. Why is this?

1. Brightkite has fewer real people checking in

When a user is logged in, a key features is seeing other users that are around you. However users are more likely to find spammers and bots making autoposts. In the pic above, you can clearly see who are real users and who are bots.

2. Foursquare has more of my ‘friends’

Perhaps this was due to the amount of internet news and hype, but when I logged into Foursquare this week, I found more real ‘friends’ to add to Foursquare. So far I’ve found no friends via Brightkite.

3. Brightkite still has few London centric points of interest

With Brightkite you can check-in in the vacinity of your current location. Originally you had to be specific about your location before checking-in. This will be a critical change for Brightkite, which hopefully will make it easier for new users / would be users to try the app.

4. Foursquare makes more noise on Facebook and Twitter

The amount of cross posting to Facebook and Twitter can only help grow awareness. However this was the one feature I turned off recently, after realising my status and tweets were getting out of hand.

There are plenty of other location based social networking apps around - even specific ones such as Wefi the social community for wifi finding, which I have mentioned before. Plenty of these suffer the same problem - a lack of users due to the lack of any internationalised UK points of interest.

5. Memory Hog Brightkite causes phones to freeze

Brightkite seemingly randomly will steel your 3G network connection and take all available memory causing your phone to freeze. There seems no clear reason for this background data usage. After restarting the phone making sure the app was not running in the background, it still opened every few hours until it was deleted from the test phone.

 

Based on the current trend - location based social networks will need to get more local in the UK to attract more users. However it seems Foursquare is ahead so far.

So have you been using Foursquare or Brightkite? What’s your preference?

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