Smart Phones Apps Drive Increase in Map usage on the US Mobile Market

Apps are more attractive than browsers for mobile users looking for maps and directions to where they want to get. This is the conclusion of a newly released study by digital data measurement expert comScore. The data gathered through their comScore Mobile Lens showed that 14% of US based mobile users accessed maps using their devices in April 2010. While the percentage is not that impressive, it actually entails a user base of 33.5 million people, with a 44% increase from 2009. Apps have a bigger chunk of this huge user base as they are more likely to be used the mobile browsers.

smartphone usageThe comScore study analyzed a three month period ending in April 2010 and found that 26% of smart phone users accessed maps through an app, while only 19 percent used their browser for the very same action. Apps are not doing that well on feature phones, where only 2% used apps and 4% their browser to consult maps.

Apps are thus leading the way in map usage on smart phones. 12.7 million people adopted this way of getting directions. Browser maps aren’t doing that bad, as they still have 9 million users with a usage increase of nearly 100%, but since apps started leading the race in February 2010 the numbers might change soon enough.

When analyzing how often people access maps and how those numbers have evolved, the comScore report showed the biggest increase was reported by those accessing maps once a week – 60% up, with significant growths for those for those using them a few times a month (47%) or once a month (44%) as well.

The majority of smart phone users need to see a map when driving, with significantly fewer accessing them when walking, running, biking or using public transport. The most popular maps are graphical ones giving turn-by-turn directions, followed by graphical maps without this type of directions and turn-by-turn direction maps without a graphical view.

Find out more about the exact numbers on the official comScore press release.

It would be interesting to see how apps impact other segments of the smart phone market and to keep an eye on how they change the way we use our phones. While I have no structured data, most people I’ve talked to about apps and their phones say they are inclined to use it more just to check out the apps. It is a playful way of spending more time on your mobile phone, but is it there to last or is it just a trend?

I’d say there are quite a few opportunities to be followed by smart marketers as we tend to get our computers smaller and smaller and do as much as we can directly from our phone. We have Twitter, email clients, Skype, maps and GPS systems, how long until our entire office moves to our phone?

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