Location-based services (LBS), are predicted to be the most popular new mobile feature, according to a study by TNS.
The survey showed that 60% of mobile users that are not currently using LBS want to start using them. In the UAE, the percentage is even higher, at 79%. One fifth of all mobile users worldwide, are already using LBS, and more than three times that number intend to adopt LBS soon.
Navigation via GPS is the most popular LBS service, which currently stands at 52% in MENA. Demand for other services, such as checking in on social networks is less, with only 13% of respondents using this already, although this figure has increased by 2% from last year.
In the UAE, one quarter of respondents use LBS to find friends at nearby locations, compared to one fifth worldwide, while one quarter again use LBS to find restaurants and entertainment venues, 19% check public transport schedules and 8% to book a taxi.
LBS users in the UAE are also showing an interest in sharing their location with brands or retailers, in return for a deal or special offer, with 11.5% taking up such services.
Steve Hamilton-Clark, CEO of TNS MENA commented: "People are realising that sharing their location often offers some kind of reward in terms of a discount or deal. It is the combination of time and context - directing people towards a deal when they can easily redeem it. This unlocks a powerful tool for marketers to develop targeting approaches.
"There are regional variations on what prompts the desire to engage and these highlight the importance of having a targeted strategy when it comes to location based marketing," he added. "LBS offers marketers an unprecedented level of engagement and targeting, however it has to be done in line with how people in individual markets want to engage with brands to avoid being intrusive. Where brands get it right, we have seen significant rewards in terms of brand engagement, loyalty and sales."
The TNS's annual Mobile Life study surveys 48,000 people in 58 countries. Results of the 2012 survey are available here.