A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Purcell Street Problem and why I disagreed with Charles Arthur’s assessment in his article “Apple maps: how Google lost when everyone thought it had won“. Charles weighed in with a couple of comments and then we let it drop although I still thought that there was something that didn’t feel right about the usage stats.
A couple of days ago Charles published another article “How Apple Maps won on UK iPhones over Google Maps – despite Waze” which suggests that I got it wrong (or even wrong, wrong, wrong), apparently the European data from ComScore shows an even more dramatic shift from Google’s Maps app to the default Apple Maps. The article almost felt like a point by point rebuttal of my Purcell Street Problem (but of course it wasn’t).
I’m baffled by these numbers as almost everyone I know (including people who are geonerds like me) reckons that the Apple Maps app isn’t up to scratch compared to Google’s offer, so what is going on? Maybe even my kids, who are so not geogeeks, are exceptions to the 6.23 million UK iPhone users who used Apple Maps in September 2013. Perhaps a partial explanation is people who are accidentally kicked into Apple Maps by iOS and then promptly exit. What’s for sure is that with the weight of user numbers behind Apple and a big enough budget they will eventually build a good enough maps offer to satisfy most people. But a maps app is more than street maps, geocodes and routing and Google understands POI’s, thematic content and that tricky multimodal stuff so I wouldn’t bet against Google yet.