Over 300 iPhone Apps Use Location Look-Ups

iphone app growth

According to Skyhook Wireless over 300 iPhone apps are location-aware as of October 3rd. According to Mobclix there are over 4,000 apps in circulation. If these numbers are correct this puts the location-aware percentage at under 10% — far, far less than I would have suspected based on my own experience. There were 5.5 location-aware apps released per day in September. The location-aware apps 61% are paid (less than the 76% found in iPhone apps as a whole according to Mobclix).

location apps by category

The Social Networking, Local Search and Navigation Categories represent over 50% of the apps. Social Networking includes Twitter clients and friend finders like Whrrl and Pelago. Once Apple adds background location updating (I hope — Radar post) I expect the Sports category to bloom with pedometers, life-trackers and faux-GPSs.

Skyhook knows this because all of those apps use their service to determine a location. They’ve been tracking the apps as they’ve come out. Skyhook cannot publicly reveal the number of look-ups from location apps, but it’s a lot. Right now the look-ups are evenly split between using the iPhone’s GPS, WiFI (Skyhook’s WPS), and Hybrid (Skyhook’s XPS product can use Wifi, celltowers and GPS for a faster, more accurate lookup).

Skyhook has been making this data available for a while. You can find more on their site. All slides courtesy of Skyhook and posted with permission (regardless of what the Confidential footer may say).

I’ll be discussing location-aware apps with Skyhook Wireless CEO TEd Morgan (along with Greg Skibiski (Sense Networks), April Allderdice (MicroEnergy Credits), and Rich Miner (Google) ) at the Web 2.0 Summit. If you have any questions for them let me know in the comments.

Paid Vs. Free

paid vs. free

Location Lookups By Source


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  • Skyhook/Loki doesn’t work well outside the USA. And they never seem to have cottoned on to using crowd sourcing to help improve it. So every time I go and have another look at Loki, I end up walking away in disgust.

    Meanwhile, still, nobody has managed to do for “where I am” what Twitter did for “what I’m doing/thinking”. I’ve discovered that forcing a manual update just doesn’t work. It just becomes chore. So it really, really needs to be automatic. Now surely a laptop or high end phone should be able to tell some service where it is with no user intervention. With appropriate privacy controls of course.

    So come on tech industry. It’s 2008. Just solve this one, already!

  • I think it was O’Reilly that mentioned awhile back that the iPhone GPS implementation is currently crippled. Julian touches on it too; “forcing a manual update just doesn’t work”

    The iPhone needs a background GPS API for location to take off. I want to be able to query my iPhone from another device and have apps. on the phone regularly, and automatically, check their location.

    Till then the only useful iPhone location app. is the built-in Maps app.

    Hopefully some strong location apps. on Android devices and Apples notification system will improve things.

  • Richard Sutton

    Yeah Julian, if you can’t bring yourself to live in the city you’re gonna have a hard time depending for location on a technology that needs to bounce off access points. There’s a technology called GPS that people use for finding their way around places where nobody lives. You should look into that…

  • Keep in mind too that anyone using PinchMedia (http://pinchmedia.com – they rock!) or MobClix also uses the Core Location functionality for analytics.

    In this case, that may lead to overreporting of the # of apps that are actually “Location Aware”.

  • Thanks for the shoutout, Jonathan — we do our best.

    Pinch Media does use the CoreLocation framework when the application is sending in geolocation data, although this is very optional and we advise against it unless the application is already making use of the CoreLocation framework for other functionality. I think there’s only a handful of over a hundred applications using Pinch Media that are using CoreLocation solely because of the analytics. (Especially since we now do some pretty accurate country-level aggregation without the need for CoreLocation at all — we’ve built up a nice mobile IP database by country over the past few months.) So there’s going to be some exaggeration there, but only a little.

    Not at all sure that Mobclix data is fresh, by the way — the total free + paid applications from that report are off by a thousand or so.

  • I expected Navigation with a much higher percentage. On the other hand it´s amazing how much social-networking apps are used yet. Great stat! What also impresses me is that there is a big willingness to pay for apps. It would be very interesting to see the same stat in one year.

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