An Update On The Google Vs Apple Maps War

It has been a while since we first blogged about the Apple/Google Map War, so it’s probably time for a little update. If you are not familiar with what I’m talking about then maybe you remember when Apple released iOS 6 just over a year ago. One of the biggest and most controversial changes was to remove Google Maps for their own Apple powered maps product. The move was just as much a control move as it was related to future revenue generation.

As we’ve also shared with you Google Maps was the #1 Mobile App and has made a lot of changes recently to better monetize the Google Maps app. We say was because since the iOS 6 release we have seen a big drop in usage and Facebook has taken the lead as the #1 mobile app. Ads have also been introduced to the app as a way for Google to generate revenue from this wonderful free service. Obviously Apple saw where this was going and wanted their own piece of the pie from their iPhone users.

Apple Is Still Punching

apple-vs-googleDespite initial reviews and problems Apple users appear to have stuck with Apple maps. I just mentioned that Google Maps lost its number one spot on the mobile app list, but what does that mean? Well according to ComScore 35 million iPhone owners in the US used Apple maps during September 2013 compared to a total of 58.7 million Google Maps users across the iPhone and Android base. This does also include 6 million iPhone users who stuck with Google Map and the approximate 2 million iPhone users who haven’t upgraded to iOS 6 or later.

“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.”

At its peak in September 2013 Google Maps had 81.1 million users, but a year later they have lost 43% of this audience in the US to bring them down to 58.7 million. Obviously Apple hasn’t completely lost this war despite all the public hits they took a year ago when Apple maps was released.

If you want to read more into the latest on this battle we highly recommend checking out this recent article in the guardian, Apple maps: how Google lost when everyone thought it had won.

But Wait! How Does The Smartphone Market Look?

I think what is deceptive is although this recent comScore data shows Apple continuing to hold a lead in the US as the Top Smartphone OEM over Samsung and others, the entire world picture looks very different.

comScore Top Smartphone OEMs

Although this second chart from IDC isn’t an exact apples to apples (no pun intended) comparison, it tells a very different story. We have to remember that lots of companies build and sell Android devices where only Apple sells Apple iPhones running iOS.

Mobile OS Market Share

So as you can see Apple might look good in the US, but it is vastly losing the smartphone war around the world. Multiple systems can use Google Maps where only iOS use Apple maps. I’m even positive you can get Google Maps for a Windows Phone and fairly certain they still have a Blackberry app. The one bright spot in this shipment data for Apple is Q4 data will hopefully reverse the trend with the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c release.

The Foolish Takeaway

So what does all this mean? Both sides are obviously collecting victories and defeats here. I think our outlook from the original piece still holds true. The fragmentation and conflicting standards stink from a macro level, but players in the market like us continue to love it from a micro standpoint. More competition is always a good thing for the consumer, but it hurts any efforts that could be used to collaborate on open standards.

We continue to be a big proponent of OpenLayers, the opensource and free alternative, and are eagerly looking forward to the 3.0 release of it. We’ll have more to share on OpenLayers 3.0 and how we will be integrating it at a later date. The longer the big players like Google and Apple fight against each other and continue to leverage their platforms for monetization the more we like the angle that players like OpenLayers play in the equation.

We will obviously continue to watch this unfolding story closely and share updates with you when they make sense.

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