Skift Take

It doesn't matter that Apple Maps is a challenge -- to say the least. Users aren't in the habit of downloading another app to navigate, even if that app is one of the better apps ever created.

Perhaps it was entirely predictable that Apple’s Maps app for the iPhone would garner millions of users as soon as it became available; enough, according to ComScore, for Google to lose 23m users in the US.

After all, Apple Maps became the default on the iPhone – and most people don’t change defaults. On the iPhone, in addition, it’s particularly hard to do so without “jailbreaking” the device; though on a standard phone one can use different mapping apps, any geographic link in an email or calendar appointment will open in Apple’s app.

But when the Guardian published that data, some queried the data collection (though ComScore’s methodology is robust). Others queried whether the Israeli company Waze (which Google bought in June 2013) might have made up the difference, or at least some of it.

And yet others suggested that Apple’s Maps are worse in Europe than in the US, and that therefore use of Google Maps would be higher in Europe (and the UK) than in the US – or at least that the drop-off would have been less.

But data supplied exclusively by ComScore to the Guardian suggests that none of those is the case – and that the fact of being the default app on the iPhone has meant that Apple Maps is far more used than Google’s offering on the iPhone.

The data for the latest figures was collected via the GSMA Mobile Metrics measurement product, so measures the app being used if someone queries map data while not connected to a Wi-Fi network.

European Numbers

According to ComScore’s European data, in the UK in October 2012 Google Maps usage on iPhone was 6.07m users – against no measurable number for Apple’s Maps app.

The data about app use is collected anonymously from mobile operators. Hesham Al-Jehani, Europe mobile product manager for ComScore, noted: “the Google Map figures are only based on those who use the app using an operator data network, so it doesn’t include those who use it only on a Wi-Fi connection.” But he thinks the latter “is probably not that many and shouldn’t affect the trend.”

In October 2012, ComScore’s separate data, collected from its statistically robust panel of owners, shows that there were 8.57m iPhone owners in the UK – which would mean that 70.8% of owners used the maps app, which would be Google’s, at some point.

But by September 2013, total use of Google Maps had dropped to 1.83m UK iPhone users even though the total ownership had grown to 10.35m. Apple Maps users, meanwhile, totalled 6.23m, or 60.2% of all users.

There’s no way to tell how many of the Google Maps users deployed it exclusively, nor how many carried on using it because they were still using phones running the older iOS 5, which cannot use Apple Maps.

Even so, it suggests a dramatic drop in the number of Google Maps users on the iPhone – by 4.24m, or 70% – which mirrors that in the US.

For Apple, removing Google from the iPhone and installing its own maps system was a strategic move which it made to be able to control elements such as voice-guided satellite navigation, location-based search, advertising and shopping, and to avoid giving up user data which Google would be able to monetise – and grow stronger from.

It has extended that shift to its desktop OSX operating system, where it has replaced Google Maps as the default mapping app, and has its own separate desktop application which can also send links directly to iPhones.

iPhone maps use in UK: Oct 2012 to Sept 2013

Google Maps on iPhone 6.07m 1.83m -4.24m
Apple Maps on iPhone 6.23m +6.23m
Waze users n/a 0.186m n/a
Total iPhone owners 8.57m 10.35m +1.78m

Waze: Not a Factor

As for Waze – acquired by Google in June for $1.3bn – other data collected by ComScore suggests that its user numbers in Europe are too small to significantly affect its loss.

According to ComScore, in November 2013 Waze has just 186,000 users in the UK – out of a total of 1.5m in the “EU 5” countries (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain). That would be far too small to generate any signficant uplift to the lost users for Google’s maps on the iPhone.

That compares to a total claimed by Waze worldwide of around 50m – though the company has never given a breakdown by country, and Google has not either.

This article originally appeared on

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Tags: android, apple maps, google maps, ios, maps

Photo credit: Google Maps is not winning on Apple's iOS. Somehow. Skift

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