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31pc of iOS 6 users pick Google Maps over Apple?s maps feature: report

More than half of iOS 6 users are using Google Maps either exclusively or some of the time over Apple Maps, according to new data from RealityMine.

It was big news when Apple announced earlier this year that its latest iOS version would replace Google Maps with its own homegrown maps solution in an attempt to gain access to important user data. However, the new data from RealityMine highlights the challenges Apple faces in gaining ground in this important area of mobile services.

?It is clear that the map function is pretty central to a successful smartphone platform - most people use maps,? said Rolfe Swinton, co-founder of RealityMine, Manchester, Britain. ?And if most people are choosing not to use Apple's map function, but rather turn to Google's, does that not weaken Apple's relationships with their customers.

?In terms of consumer usage, Google has nailed what people want from a mobile-based map for information on the go,? he said. ?Anyone else, including Apple and the host of established GPS maps companies have a long ways to go to get the same level of consumer use.?

Maps flap
Apple Maps has been plagued with customer complaints about a poor user experience almost from the day it was launched, to the extent that Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to issue a public apology and promise to continue working to improve Apple Maps.

The recent announcement of the departure of Scott Forstall, who headed up iOS software development, is also being attributed to the problems with Apple Maps.

These issues are problematic for Apple as maps functionality is a key way to gather important user data and to monetize location-specific offers.

?This data is gold to Apple and Google,? Mr. Swinton said. ?With this data, they know not only what people are doing on their mobile phones, they know the context where they are doing it.

?Are they shopping on their mobile, are they doing that at home or while they are in a store?,? he said. ?The latter they can answer when they have the location information.

?Given the high level of map usage by mobile users, it is one of the prime pieces of advertising and marketing real-estate. What better way to monetize location-specific offers and context-specific offers than through the mobile map feature.?

New habits
Reality Mine?s analysis of thousands of iOS 6 users shows that the new native Apple map is not the product of choice for iPhone users.

Based on usage data, Reality Mine found that 23 percent of iOS 6 users used both Google and Apple Maps while 31 percent of iOS 6 users used only Google Maps despite the hassle of it not being a native app.

Only 11 percent of iOS 6 users were satisfied enough with Apple Maps to use it exclusively while 31 percent did not use map functions at all.

Third-party map app developers represents less than two percent of total map usage on iOS 6 handsets.

The results also point to Google?s strength with its maps services.

?Google has built a great product that is very useful,? Mr. Swinton said. ?People like it because it is giving them the information that they need when they need it and it also shows the strong habitual nature of the product.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York