According to the latest study by comScore, 14 percent of mobile users in the U.S. accessed maps on their devices in April 2010 -- as the mobile map audience reached 33.5 million users, up 44 percent from the previous year.
The market study also found that more mobile users now access maps via applications than via Web browser, demonstrating the success of applications in penetrating the mobile map market.
"People are increasingly turning to their mobile phone for maps and directions when on the go," said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile.
For the three month period ending April 2010, 26 percent of smartphone users accessed maps via applications, while 19 percent accessed maps via browser in a month. In comparison, just 2 percent of feature phone users accessed maps via applications, with 4 percent doing so via browser.
Smartphone users drove growth in both application and browser map usage with app access nearly tripling to 12.7 million smartphone users, while browser map access surged 93 percent to nearly 9 million smartphone users. The number of mobile map app users first surpassed mobile map browser users in February 2010.
For the three month period ending April 2010, 33.5 million mobile users accessed maps at least once during a month, an increase of 44 percent from the previous year.
Visitors accessing maps 1-3 times per month increased 47 percent to 17.1 million users, while those accessing once a week increased 60 percent to 11.6 million users. The most frequent users, those accessing maps on a near daily basis, climbed 9 percent to reach 4.8 million users.
Among those who accessed maps on their mobile devices, 87.2 percent did so from a car or other vehicle, with 17.2 percent doing so while walking, running or biking, and 16.7 percent while using public transit.
The most utilized types of maps were graphical maps with turn-by-turn directions (60.3 percent of mobile maps users), followed by 50.6 percent using a graphical map without turn-by-turn directions and 46.8 percent using turn-by-turn directions without a graphical map.
"87 percent of mobile navigation users are accessing maps and directions while driving," noted Donovan, "Clearly indicating that the rising sophistication of smartphones poses a challenge to dedicated GPS systems."