comScore Reports on Mobile Map Usage

comScore has released results of a US study of mobile map usage based on data from its MobiLens service. The study found that 48m mobile users accessed maps on their mobile device during the three month average period ending May 2011, an increase of 39 per cent over the previous year, driven in large part by the increase in smartphone adoption.

The study found that map usage via mobile apps was the primary access point for smartphone owners as the map app audience doubled in size over the past year. 98.3m people accessed maps via the PC web during the three-month period, a 2 per cent decline on the previous year.

“The strong growth in mobile map usage and flattening of desktop map usage is indicative of broader behavioural shifts being wrought by smartphones,” says Mark Donovan, comScore’s senior vice president of mobile. “For years, consumers have been able to check directions on their desktop computers prior to leaving their home or office. Now, smartphones allow people to skip this step and access maps on the go, as they need them, showing off one of the most powerful capabilities of mobile – just-in-time-information.”

The number of smartphone map users (which accounted for 4 out of every 5 mobile map users) reached 38.2m in May, an increase of 75 per cent over the previous year, and outpacing total smartphone audience growth of 57 per cent. Apps represented the primary access point for approximately two-thirds of smartphone map users (up 98 per cent), while browser map access was about half as popular as apps, and grew at half the rate.

Among all mobile users (smartphone and feature phone) who accessed maps on their mobile devices, 88.9 per cent did so from a car or other vehicle, with 16.9 per cent doing so while walking, running or biking, and 13.6 per cent while using public transit. The most utilized types of maps were graphical maps with turn-by-turn directions (64 per cent of mobile maps users), followed by 48.3 per cent using a graphical map without turn-by-turn directions and 46 per cent using turn-by-turn directions without a graphical map.