A recent post on Search Engine Land highlighted a small survey of businesses currently advertising on Foursquare. The headline for this post, "Only 10% of Business Would Pay For Foursquare" sits squarely above a gigantic pie chart showing the big difference between 90% and 10%. The article draws the conclusion that this 10% "willing-to-pay figure has to be somewhat alarming" for Foursquare. This might be true, and I don't really want to knock that conclusion in this space. Yes, 10% is a small number.
Keep in mind, however, that only 7% of Americans are even aware of location-based services. That's the small number that Foursquare and others in the space might really be thinking of, because that's a fixable number. That's a number that will grow, and when it grows, the import and business reach of these location-based networks will grow with it. Which will, in turn, cause the first small number noted in this post to grow as well. If awareness of Foursquare were as high as Facebook (88% of Americans), then they might have cause for alarm, because that would be a clear sign that they were truly in danger of being marginalized.
As a guy who makes his living telling stories with numbers, I'll close with this thought: if the survey quoted in the Search Engine Land post were really projectable to all businesses (it isn't, but work with me here), then 10% of all businesses would pay for Foursquare. I'd take that business in a heartbeat. BMW and Lexus both have market shares of about 2% in America. There is big money in small numbers.