Reports say that Apple is planning to announce its own mapping service at next week’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). This service will eventually replace the Google-operated back end for the Maps app that is bundled with every iPhone. Google has provided that service ever since the iPhone’s debut in 2007.
Google seems to be nervous about this. On Wednesday, the company had a press event about Google Maps that featured almost zero news, but seemed to be one long advertisement for the service.
This got us to wondering: what exactly does Google stand to lose?
Quite a lot, according to stats that comScore Mobile Metrix shared exclusively with BI Intelligence.
In the U.S., Google gets about 31 million users a month on its Maps app on iOS (chart 1), and on average those users spend more than 75 minutes apiece in the app each month (chart 2).
If the reports are true, a big proportion of those users will stop visiting Google’s mapping service over the next few years, as new iPhones gradually swap out the Google-backed Maps app for an Apple-backed one.
Another way of looking at it: about 45% of all traffic to mobile versions of Google Maps comes from iOS. The remaining 55% comes from Android. (All stats are U.S. only, and measure only the app versions of Maps, not access to Google Maps through a mobile Web browser.)
While more monthly users came from Android (34.8 million) than iOS (31.4 million), the average number of DAILY users was much higher on iOS (9.7 million) than Android (7.2 million). This suggests that iOS users touch the Maps app more often than Android users use the Google Maps app:
The iPhone version of Maps also got greater engagement: on average, iOS users spend 75.5 minutes per month using the app, versus 56.2 minutes for Android users on Google Maps apps.
The iPhone version of Maps also has greater reach: 90 percent of all iOS users touched it at least once during April 2012. Only 71% of Android users used the Google Maps app.
With these high levels of engagement and reach on iOS, it’s no wonder Apple is looking to in-house its maps service.
Will this kill Google? Not at all. Google probably won’t lose much revenue from the replacement — most of its mobile revenue today comes through search.
But it closes off all kinds of future opportunities on iOS, such as selling locally targeted ads based on a user’s Maps location or search queries.