Blog Post

After fast uptake, Apple Maps use plunges to 1 in 25 iOS owners

How bad is what some are calling Apple’s(s aapl) map-gate? Bad enough that Apple CEO, Tim Cook, offered an online apology on Friday, saying “With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment.” Apple is recommending that users try alternative solutions for iOS while it works hard to address the mapping issues.

Cook’s statement essentially admits there is an issue, but understandably puts little context on the impact to users. That’s why this set of data from Snappli comes in handy to get some quantification of how widespread Apple’s Map issue is on its user base. Snappli offers a mobile app for both Android and iOS devices that compresses data over mobile broadband to help folks use less of their 3G or 4G monthly allowance. By looking at the following data from 5,000 Snappli users on iOS, the following information puts some perspective around iPhone owners and Maps in iOS 6:

  • 64% of Snappli users have migrated to iOS 6 within the last few weeks (UK and US)
  • Before the upgrade to iOS 6, 25% of Snappli users were viewing Google Maps(s goog) at least once a day
  • Once they moved to iOS 6, that immediately went to 35% of users using Apple Maps
  • However,  over the next 5 days that drops down to 4%
  • Summary: before iOS 6 1 in 4 people were using Google maps at least once a day. After iOS 6: 1 in 25 using Apple maps and falling.

Long story short: We already knew that Apple’s mapping isn’t up to par for many and that the company is working on making the service better. I have no doubt it will as soon as it can. But now we have a reasonable idea of how big of an impact the problem is when it comes to actual users. I suspect Apple does too since it can see how many people are, and were, tapping it for mapping services.

40 Responses to “After fast uptake, Apple Maps use plunges to 1 in 25 iOS owners”

  1. It’s not just the map app they’ve borked. In my case there’s 6 or 7 other apps I use regularly. The figures given here probably reflect well the drop in my own use, and I can’t see a significant improvement for a long time.

  2. Matthew

    Wait, 25% of people used Maps once a day on iOS 5? That’s unbelievable. Don’t people know how to get to work? 4% sounds more reasonable. I think your data on iOS 5 maps has to be flawed.

  3. cooldoods

    I think I read something underneath Tim Cook’s apology when he mentioned Google Map’s website as an alternative. He may be saying that even if Google submits a Google Maps app for the App Store, Apple will not approve it.

    What if Google submits a Maps app for iOS with turn-by-turn navigation AND StreetView, will that sway iOS6 users to use it over iOS Maps?

    • It doesn’t really matter for Apple what maps app they use. Sure they care about search queries, but equally important are the Maps APIs.

      Previously they fed all 3rd party maps info from the iPhone over to Google. Now all that data richness will go to Apple, which is how they will crowdsource their database.

      So while search queries are important, I don’t see how allowing 3rd party maps apps will slow down apples ambition in the maps space.

  4. Did you consider the fact that the new maps are vector-based and thus are much more data efficient and can easily cache entire cities? People may be using the maps just as much but it’s just not using as much data as they are now vector based.

    That would explain the high initial numbers and the rapid drop (people tend to stick in their neck of the woods).

  5. The problem here is that Snappli is measuring data consumption via maps. However, iOS devices cache the data and don’t get it again unless there is an update. In the first few days everybody needed to the data because they did not have it. People were also toying with Flyover and satellite imagery (which is much bigger than vector graphics). After the first few days there was no need to get more data from the server.

    Go ahead and turn off your cellular data and wifi and watch your iPhone still be able to track you with detailed vector maps of places you have searched or have been recently.

  6. There’s more I like about the new Maps app than I dislike about it.
    I have to be more precise. And in 11 days, there’s only one point of interest the new Maps app didn’t find for me. One.

  7. mistergsf

    This whole maps thing is such bullish*t. Listen, I know that the new iOS maps isn’t perfect, but you would think that all this BS being written about it, that people’s lives have been turned upside down (pun intended). Really folks, maps is an important feature of the OS but it’s not the end of the world. Sheesh. Can we talk about something else now?

  8. ProudFanboy

    Ok, so it’s a sample size of only 5000 users, when iOS6 has over 100 million users at least by now. And it only examines a period of FIVE DAYS? Yea, it’s perfectly reasonable to say factually that Maps usage on iOS has dropped to 1/25. Did this “study” check to see if they were using other maps apps in replacement? And does this study determine their countries? What if these 5k users were in some of the countries with truly bad maps data. That doesn’t represent the 100-200 million users.

    Maybe my city got lucky, but Maps has never failed to correctly find locations, and it’s even helped me find a very small local business that I had never seen on GMaps. AND it found it for me through a generic keyword, not the business name.

    I’ve used it every single day for 3 months since iOS6 beta 1, and I haven’t run into a single problem. I’ve been loving the much more beautiful cartography, the beautiful turn by turn, and beautiful info cards with pictures and yelp! Some people seem to be LOOKING for problems, rather than simply trying it out ad using it.

  9. So they took a specific sample group of 5000 users who use a specific app to represent all of the 100 million+ potential iOS user base…. really? That’s actually only 0.005% of the iOS user base.

  10. PXLated

    There’s a post out there – sorry, didn’t bookmark the link – that explains why the Snappli data is inaccurate and meaningless. It all has to do with the fact that the Apple maps use vector graphics and get a lot more data downloaded, and a larger area than they ever did with Google’s rater tiles. Once downloaded, one can zoom way in without requiring new data. One can also pan around a bigger area without reconnecting for more data. So, unless a person leaves the area completely (a rather large area at that), they won’t need to connect to the map server. If they don’t have to connect to the map server (which they usually won’t), there’s no new data that Snappli can even analyze.

  11. the apple map app in iOS 5 and below was horrible with no turn by turn maps. I’m not sure who used it regularly. I used it for street view once in a while, but that was it. I had a second mapping app on my phone that I used 85% of the time since it did turn by turn.

    The new maps app is much better than the old map app….I think that all the pontificating and news article about the new maps is just smoke and mirrors bullshit. I just tried out the new maps turn by turn today and it worked flawlessly.

    Stop treating the iPhone like politics or religion. Just discuss the features and see if they meet your needs. People that either Hate or worship the iPhone aren’t going to change their point of view, even after rational discussion.

  12. Despite the obvious mess, this data could simply be showing the spike in users who don’t normally use maps trying out the new service. Don’t read too much into your lies, damned lies and statistics… They can be used to support any viewpoint.

  13. Apple’s new map service is a mess right now. But Apple should have known about it before the iOS6 & iPhone 5 launch and still launched an unfinished product. It seems they have done it to compete against Samsung and Nokia devices. Also, omission of NFC is a step backward for cupertino giant.

  14. “… People quickly adopted Apple Maps only to leave it even faster”. I am sorry to point that out, but, first comes the Maps, and then, before you know it, people are going to leave iPhone for other phones. It is sad, and remarkable at the same time, how painfully obvious the absence of Steve jobs is!

    • mistergsf

      Really? You really think people are going to give up their iPhones just because the new maps happens to be weak right now? Since when did the iPhone because just a navigation device? Or any other smart phone for that matter.

  15. Folks let’s be serious here. The maps suck so bad Cook had to apologize and you’re here in the comments trying to question a drop in usage? Its pretty simple. The maps aren’t working for them so they aren’t using them. Hoping for some rebound so Apple doesn’t look bad isnt going to change this. And expect more failures as this game moves to services.

  16. Aaron Berlin

    Not to over-generalize, but people savvy enough to install a bandwidth-minimizing app are probably also most likely to seek out a third-party map solution, so that decline is probably exaggerated.

  17. Nicholas Paredes

    Personally, I go to the google app to search now. The maps app is nearly worthless since it does no error corrections on names and frankly loads slowly.

    I do remember that this is probably quite valuable in China, but for the US it is horrible. Having done some UX work for Navteq last year, it is quite amazing what Google has done with the data. It is also interesting to feel the pain of removing that data from my mobile life!

  18. That drop seems to be users checking out the other map apps. The small time window, however, doesn’t distinguish between users just checking other map apps versus users settling on other applications.

    Just like any disturbance there’s going to be the initial drop, then a bottoming out, followed by a rebound. wash, rinse, repeat. What I’d like to see is what users eventually settle on.

    I expect GigaOm to post a followup on those numbers the next several days to get a complete picture.

  19. I’ve owned and used iOS and Android devices for quite a while. I seldom use Maps (whether the previous Google version or Apple’s version) on iOS. The reason? no navigation. On the other hand, since turn-by-turn navigation is baked into maps on Android, I use it with some frequency — maybe two times a week. In the meanwhile, its kind of fun to see all of the examples Apple’s new reality distortion field, post Steve Jobs!

      • Google indeed does allow it. Otherwise, how would it work on Android? Oh, Google doesn’t allow it on iOS. Why is that? Because Apple refused to include Google Latitude as well. So Apple prevented you from having turn by turn directions because Apple wanted to prevent you from having Latitude preinstalled too. And now your iO-mess has maps that suck. Enjoy.

      • Vera Comment

        @Guest. NO. THEY. DONT. – not to 3rd parties. thanks for playing. Here’s the TOS

        10.2 Restrictions on the Types of Applications that You are Permitted to Build with the Maps API(s). Except as explicitly permitted in Section 8 (Licenses from Google to You) or the Maps APIs Documentation, you must not (nor may you permit anyone else to) do any of the following:


        (c) No Navigation, Autonomous Vehicle Control, or Enterprise Applications. You must not use the Service or Content with any products, systems, or applications for or in connection with any of the following:

        (i) real time navigation or route guidance, including but not limited to turn-by-turn route guidance that is synchronized to the position of a user’s sensor-enabled device.

      • Fandroid_Herder

        @Guest Are you dumb or intentionally blind? Google would not allow Apple to improve/add features to their Maps app without forcing Apple to include Latitude, more prominent Google branding, and allowing Google to collect as much data as they want from iOS users. And Apple is the bad guy for rejecting those terms? You Fandroids will do mental gymnastics to convince yourself that Apple is always wrong and Google is always right.

        Google already spies on me enough, I don’t want them spying on me even more using an Apple app. And I sure as hell don’t want Latitude integrated into my Maps app. And I was already aware of who’s maps they were, so having an even bigger Google branding on the map screen was completely unnecessary.

        Apple took the risk and courage to start from square 1 and create their own service, so Google couldn’t get whatever the hell they wanted from iOS users. Anyone who expects a mapping service to be flawless on day 1 is unreasonable. I’ll tell you this, Apple maps is miles better than GMaps was on day 1, and I guarantee Apple will have it improved and superior to GMaps in a short amount of time.

    • Matthew

      35% sounds right for people trying out Maps for the first time since they just got a phone. 4% sounds about right for the population in general, because how many people need to look at maps every day? We all know how to get to work, our kids’ schools, the grocery store, etc. Only when you’re going someplace out of the ordinary do you need Maps.