Has the tide turned for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Maps? According to the latest data from comScore via the Guardian, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps has lost around 23 million mobile users since September 2012 when it had about 81 million users. Meanwhile, Apple’s native mapping application continues to grow in popularity despite its rocky debut over a year ago. According to comScore’s data, approximately 35 million people used Apple Maps in September 2013.
Apple originally launched Apple Maps as a part of iOS 6 in September 2012 after removing Google Maps from its mobile operating system. However, the application was widely criticized for its lack of geographic details, mislabeled locations, and other glitches. Tim Cook eventually apologized for the problematic app and fired senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall.
However, Apple’s divergence from Google Maps began much earlier than 2012. According to an unnamed Apple executive cited by the Guardian, Google’s refusal to allow iPhone users to access the turn-by-turn navigation features in Google Maps for iOS in 2009 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. “They broke their promise,” an Apple executive told the Guardian. Google’s intransigence on the navigation issue as well as its growing demands for increased data from Apple’s users led the Cupertino-based company to begin development of its own mapping application.
More recently, Apple has been improving the capabilities of Apple Maps by acquiring various transit system information app companies. Apple has purchased location data company Locationary, mass transit navigation app company HopStop, and transit system app company Embark over the past several months. Apple has also made many user interface improvements to Apple Maps, including a revamped error-reporting system.
The improvements to Apple Maps aren’t the only reason the app has risen in popularity. Since Apple Maps is the default mapping application for the most recent versions of iOS, most users don’t bother to access Google Maps for iOS anymore. “For the average user, even if they have the Google Maps app, they don’t use it a lot,” comScore analyst Andrew Lipsman told the Guardian.
Apple Maps may also be benefitting from iOS users’ higher app usage rates. As noted by the Guardian, around 9.7 million iPhone users access Apple Maps at least once a day, compared to 7.2 million Android users. Despite some well-publicized problems with Apple Maps after its debut last year, it appears that Apple may have the last laugh in the mapping application war with Google.
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