Despite its bumpy roll-out in September of last year, Apple’s iOS Maps application has progressively garnered traction with iPhone users in the US. And since Apple Maps took Google Maps’ place as the native GPS app for iOS in 2012, it has cost Google 23 million of its mobile users in the process.

According to ComScore, a market research company, Google had nearly 81 million mobile users (iOS and Android) partaking of its free maps service in September 2012 – but lost nearly a quarter of that when it was bumped off the native app list for iOS in favor of Apple Maps (apparently since it wouldn’t give Apple access to its voice-driven turn-by-turn navigation technology).

But Google wasn’t the only one in the dumps at the time – Apple was enduring a PR nightmare with its own malfunctioning, inaccurate and largely unpopular map app. Many users absolutely detested Apple’s attempt at GPS — so much so that Apple CEO Tim Cook offered a public apology and fired some of the Maps team. But while Apple has had the past year to improve its application, there’s no simple method Google can apply to regain the several million users it’s lost.

But as Google Maps is still a downloadable option on the iOS App Store, many people still use it frequently, according to the latest statistics from ComScore. In September 2013, for example, an impressive 58.7 million users used Google Maps. Apple Maps performed well, just slightly less so, with a total of 35 million iPhone owners in the US gathering directions through Apple’s own maps.

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“Google has lost access to a very, very important data channel in the North American market,” commented Ben Wood, mobile analyst for CCS Insight, a research company based in London.

“But Apple was adamant that it wasn’t going to give up on doing its own maps, even when it had problems. This is a war of attrition.”

Despite its explosion in popularity when Apple Maps flew off the assembly line half-on-fire, Google Maps hasn’t gained exponential traction since its standalone release last December. That said, if Apple continues to improve its app further, it could mean less Google Maps loyalty for Google as the years trudge on – especially since Apple Maps are the default for any directions-related or map-focused queries made on iOS devices running iOS 6 and up.

“The thing is, on an iPhone all roads lead to Apple’s maps, Wood mentioned.

“They’re putting this front and center for users, and getting more confident. For Google, they’re very fortunate that Android is a big source of data – they will be very relieved at that.”

The US now has over 136.7 million registered iOS and Android phones – with Apple Maps gripping 35 million of them and Google Maps holding fast to over 58.8 million. 60.1 million of those devices are iPhones.

So… is Google in trouble? Well, of course not – they’re Google, a company with plenty of products and even more dough to back them with. However, they are sure to encounter more obstacles along the way if they don’t quite hastily discover a way to put Google Maps, forgive me, back on the map.

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But maybe they’ve got a trick up their sleeve, a trick they’ll reveal soon. Or, conversely, maybe they’re content with their 58.8 million users.

I know I would be.


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