When Apple launched their maps app in iOS 6, the company received lots of flak. Many of the criticisms were justifiable, which led to an apology from Tim Cook.
However, former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée believed the company had done the right thing.
Jean-Louis Gassée on Apple maps:
Q: Then why did Apple kick Google Maps off the iOS platform? Wouldn’t Apple have been better off offering Google Maps even while it was building its own map app? Shouldn’t Apple have waited?
A: Waited for what? For Google to strengthen its chokehold on a key iOS service? Apple has recognized the significance of mobile mapping and acquired several mapping companies, IP assets and talent in the last few years. Mapping is indeed one of the hardest of mobile services, involving physical terrestrial and aerial surveying, data acquisition, correction, tile making and layer upon layer of contextual info married to underlying data, all optimized to serve often under trying network conditions. Unfortunately, like dialect recognition or speech synthesis (think Siri), mapping is one of those technologies that can’t be fully incubated in a lab for a few years and unleashed on several hundred million users in more than a 100 countries in a “mature” state. Thousands of reports from individuals around the world, for example, have helped Google correct countless mapping failures over the last half decade. Without this public exposure and help in the field, a mobile mapping solution like Apple’s stands no chance.
Today, Jean-Louis Gassée prediction is coming to fruition. Charles Arthur of the The Guardian is reporting that Apple’s maps have turned out to be a hit with iPhone and iPad users in the US. Charles Arthur reports that there is a total of 35m iPhone owners in the US using Apple’s maps during September 2013 3, according to a recent ComScore report.
On the other hand, Google lost nearly 23m mobile users and now has a total of 58.7m Google Maps users across the iPhone and Android . This is from the lofty heights of 81m Google Maps mobile users in September 2012.
Modelling that change in users suggests that on the iPhone, there are about 43.2m maps users in all – which would break down to 35m using Apple’s maps, and another 8.3m who use Google’s maps at least once a month. Separate data from Mixpanel for the US supplied to the Guardian suggests though that there are about 2m iPhone owners in the US who have not upgraded their phones to iOS 6, and so cannot use Apple’s maps.
That means that Google has gone from having at least 31m users on the iPhone in April 2012 – and perhaps as many as 35m in September 2012, based on a model using a sliding scale of maps ownership – to around 6.3m who are using it monthly on iOS 6 and above.