1 of 11
Ask the experts, and they'll tell you over and over: the future of social media rests within the data servers of location-based services like Facebook Places, Google Latitude, and Foursquare. And if visionaries like Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley are to be believed, "location" -- even more so than Facebook and Twitter -- will connect users and improve the way they interact with the real world.

In reality though, we spend more time talking about location-based services than actually using them. According to a Forrester Research study, only 4% of Americans check in with apps like Foursquare. Chalk part of that up to lack of public awareness, but arguably, another stumbling block is app integration. If you want restaurant reviews, you go to Yelp. If you want that virtual Gap coupon, you use Foursquare. While some of these apps are now beginning to "play nice," some analysts predict it'll be years, perhaps two or three, before service integration reaches a point where you walk down a street and multiple apps interact to provide a smooth, unified experience. Until then, expect rapid growth in the segment -- location apps could be responsible for as much as $12.7 billion in sales by 2014.

We cut through all the tech chatter to highlight the services to watch in the years to come -- when things really take off.

NEXT: The bigwigs
Last updated January 04 2011: 12:26 PM ET
More Galleries
50 years of the Ford Mustang Take a drive down memory lane with our favorite photos of the car through the years. More
8 CEOs who took a pay cut in 2013 Median CEO pay inched up 9% in 2013 to $13.9 million. But not everyone got a bump last year. Here are eight CEOs who missed out. More
10 best convertibles now that spring has sprung It's finally time to put the top down. Here are our 10 favorite rides for the warmer months to come. More
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.