Mobile map usage jumps, cutting into desktop use

More people are mapping their way through life using smartphones than ever before, forgoing desktop services such as Mapquest, according to new comScore data.

The number of users who accessed mobile mapping sites or apps in the last six months jumped 24 percent to 92 million unique visitors.

Desktop mapping searches on search engines have dropped 34 percent in the last 15 months, and search click-throughs to mapping sites are down 41 percent, according to comScore. Desktop mapping visitation remains strong, hovering between 95 and 100 million people per month, but it’s clear that the tide is shifting toward mobile.

That shift explains why Apple, Google, Nokia, and other mapping services are battling for supremacy in the smartphone mapping arena. It also explains why Apple’s iOS 6 Maps debaclecaused an outpour of frustration: People are more dependent than ever on their smartphones to get them where they are going.

Apple CEO Tim Cook apologized for the shortcomings of its mapping app, saying that the company fell short of its pledge to make ““world-class products that deliver the best experience to our customers.”

Access to consumers’ location data and interests (such as searches for sushi or nail salons) also generates revenue through city- and business-specific advertising, a major motivation for companies in the fight for mapping supremacy.

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