It all makes sense. According to comScore, map-based search on the PC has now peaked and is starting to erode. By contrast mobile usage of mapping applications is growing and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Apple Maps’ problems notwithstanding, smartphone mapping apps offer a better overall experience than online maps. Because they’re in your pocket they’re available when they’re most needed: on the go. And they offer location-aware/search nearby capabilities that online maps do not.
Here’s what comScore recently said about the decline of PC mapping and the rise of smartphone based map lookups and local search:
In the past six months alone, according to comScore Mobile Metrix, the number of smartphone visitors to Maps websites and apps has jumped 24% to 92 million unique visitors – a monthly penetration of 83% among smartphone users . . .
Searches with a Mapping/Navigation intent on the Big 5 Engines are down 34% over the past 15 months, going from 74.8 million to 49.5 million in August. comScore Search Planner shows that search clicks to Map/Navigation sites show an even steeper decline, down 41% to just 55.2 million in August.
Image source: comScore
This is a significant development and underscores how much is at stake for all the parties in the “map wars.” While Apple has an opportunity to become a major player in “local search” if it can improve its maps, Google might be the bigger beneficiary when it releases its native iOS mapping app.
Previously there was minimal advertising on the iPhone mapping app by Google (probably per Apple). However Google would be free to fully monetize its own native mapping app for iOS, as it currently does with Google Maps for Android.
The mapping and local search shift to mobile also presents new risks and opportunities for others in the segment. Apple Maps has opened up a new competitive front and some smaller players may benefit in the short term because of increased visibility. By the same token those who’ve relied on PC-based local search traffic or local SEO may find that traffic flat-to-declining over time, as comScore suggests.
For local search and mapping companies it’s a time of upheaval as consumer local-search behavior undergoes a seismic shift — to mobile.