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More Adoption of Online Map Usage via Mobile Apps

comScore released results of a U.S. market study of mobile map usage. The study found that 48 million people accessed online maps via their mobile device during the three month period ending May 2011 -- that's an increase of 39 percent from the previous year, driven in large part by the increase in smartphone adoption.

The study found that map usage via mobile applications (apps) was the primary access point for smartphone owners -- as the map app audience doubled in size over the past year.

A comparative look at map usage among fixed-Internet users (i.e. accessing from a home or work computer) found that map visitation saw a slight decline in total audience in May 2011 versus the previous year, dipping 2 percent, while still maintaining a substantially larger audience of 93.8 million visitors.

"The strong growth in mobile map usage and flattening of desktop map usage is indicative of broader behavioral shifts being wrought by smartphones," said Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president of mobile.

For years, people have been able to check directions on their desktop computers prior to leaving their home or office, now smartphones allow people to skip this step and access maps on the go, as they need them, showing off one of the most powerful capabilities of mobile -- just-in-time-information.

The number of smartphone map users (which accounted for 4 out of every 5 mobile map users) reached 38.2 million in May -- that's an increase of 75 percent from the previous year and outpacing the total smartphone audience growth of 57 percent.

Applications represented the primary access point for approximately two-thirds of smartphone map users (up 98 percent), while browser map access was about half as popular as apps and grew at half the rate.

Among all mobile users (smartphone and feature phone) who accessed maps on their mobile devices, 88.9 percent did so from a car or other vehicle, with 16.9 percent doing so while walking, running or biking, and 13.6 percent while using public transit.

The most utilized types of maps were graphical maps with turn-by-turn directions (64.0 percent of mobile maps users), followed by 48.3 percent using a graphical map without turn-by-turn directions and 46.0 percent using turn-by-turn directions without a graphical map.

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