How Google Lost the Maps Battle


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In spite of nearly everyone I know preferring Google Maps to Apple’s own Maps app on iOS, this article from The Guardian (which is excellent and mercifully un-multimedia-ized) argues that in fact Apple Maps emerged as the dominant player on iOS.

“Apple’s maps have turned out to be a hit with iPhone and iPad users in the US — despite the roasting that they were given when they first appeared in September 2012. But Google — which was kicked off the iPhone after it refused to give Apple access to its voice-driven turn-by-turn map navigation — has lost nearly 23 million mobile users in the U.S. as a result.”

The article argues that the power of incumbency is apparently difficult to resist. Google’s offering is superior in accuracy and, arguably, in user experience, but “all roads lead to Apple’s maps” throughout the operating system, which is a tremendous advantage.

For my part, I’m incredibly frustrated by the whole maps ecosystem on my phone. I’m one of those tortured souls who would prefer to avoid giving Google more of my information if I can, though my efforts to do so are not exactly thorough. But using Apple Maps is not a realistic option, in my view, because it’s so frequently wrong. Worse, Apple missed a terrific opportunity when Google acquired Waze last summer. That’s my favorite maps app by far and would have injected a much needed sense of populism into Apple’s ivory tower approach to mapping data.

Read the full article at The Guardian.

  1. For me the issue is actually key LOST functionality in Google Maps when it came back to iOS. Why on earth would they ditch the cone to show which way you’re facing is beyond me. That one little difference is why I launch Apple Maps more than Google Maps.

  2. When Apple Maps debuted on iOS 6, the app was simply unusable where I live (Spain), and I actually bothered to report more than 40 corrections during the first week of use before giving up for good.

    Today, more than a year after its debut, Apple Maps looks improved in my area, but it still is wrong too often to be reliable. Google Maps never failed me, and it’s also more useful for local public transport information than the website or the apps of the local transport authorities themselves!


  3. I’m curious what you like about Waze. I only use it when I’m about to travel during rush hour, since it has all that user-powered data., but find the interface infuriating.

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