The use of mobile maps is growing quickly in the US and Western Europe, with nearly 8% of US mobile subscribers and 3% of those in Europe having accessed maps from a mobile phone in the three months ended May 2008, according to comScore‘s M:Metrics service.
Mobile map user numbers have increased 82% and 49% in the US and Europe, respectively, from the year-earlier period:
The iPhone is the leading device used to access maps in the US, but in Europe it trails the Nokia N95 and N70, according to the comScore M:Metrics Benchmark Study.
The vast majority of mobile map users are seeking driving directions, even in Europe, where public transportation and non-vehicular options are more popular, comScore found:
Among other findings issued by comScore:
- Some 73% of US mobile subscribers are accessing maps via the browser, and in Europe 57% are doing so.
- Less than one-third of Americans and Europeans are using downloaded applications, which allow phones with less computing power and often smaller screens than smartphones to better render graphic-rich maps and directions.
- Despite the ubiquity of SMS usage in Europe, the penetration of consumers accessing maps and directions via SMS is 24% – just one percentage point higher than in the US.
“The mobile phone as a personal navigation device makes tremendous sense,” observed Mark Donovan, senior analyst, comScore. “With the influx of devices, such as the iPhone with GPS, entering the market, Nokia’s purchase of NAVTEQ and the growing popularity of downloadable navigation applications, you don’t need a map to see where this sector is going.”
PC-based vs. Mobile Maps
While mobile access to maps has surged, online access to maps using the PC has also grown, but at a slower pace – due in large part to an already-large base of users:
In the UK, which posted the highest growth in mobile access to maps at 72%, online access via the PC dipped from 45% penetration in May 2007 to 41% in May 2008.
In the US, the increase in the number of users accessing maps from a mobile device far outpaced the increase in the number of people who accessed maps via the PC.