Government // Mobile & Wireless
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5/26/2011
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Google Maps Mobile Use Surges

Google's Marisa Mayer revealed that more people will soon be accessing Google Maps from mobile devices than from desktop computers.

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Google Maps for Mobile has been downloaded and installed on more than 200 million devices worldwide, according to Marisa Mayer, Google's vice president of maps and local products, speaking at TechCrunch's Disrupt conference in New York City.

The huge success of Google's Android platform has surely played a role in Google's success with mobile mapping. Google Maps is an integral part the Android experience. Remember, though, that Google provides the mapping powers of the iPhone, and it also makes its mapping software available to other platforms, such as BlackBerry OS, Symbian, and more. Google has been aggressive at making its mobile map program accessible from a wide number of devices.

If you think Maps for Mobile is being downloaded, used once, and then forgotten, think again. Mayer said mobile use of Google Maps is exploding. Mayer revealed that 40% of all Google Maps use comes from mobile devices. Mobile use of maps leapfrog's desktop use from time to time over the weekends. Google expects that by June, the percentage of mobile maps users will exceed desktop users--and stay that way.

Google updates Maps for Mobile frequently, especially the version for Android, and adds new features constantly. Mayer said that one of her goals in her new role at Google is to streamline how users access information. For example, the company recently combined several individual products (Hotpot and Places), and also made it easier to access different Google services from within other Google services.

Google Maps encompasses a handful of separate applications, such as Latitude, Places, Hotpot, Buzz, and so on. As Mayer noted, over the last six months or so, it has lifted these services out of their individual silos and made them work much better across the entire Maps application.

Of note, 20% of the searches performed on Google.com are for local information. That number doubles to 40% when it comes to mobile users seeking local information.

Google recently polled 5,000 users of mobile devices about how they use their smartphones to perform searches and look up information. Amazingly, 90% of respondents indicated that a smartphone search resulted in a direct action, such as visiting a store or making a purchase. One in four respondents recommended a brand or product to others as a result of a smartphone search.

Almost everyone--95%--said that they use smartphones to look up local information, such as the location of a restaurant or other business. Many-- 88%--use that information to take some form of action within about a day. Three-quarters of respondents admitted to contacting a business as a result of a search, with 61% making a phone call and 59% traveling to the business in question.

Mayer wants all of these different actions to become more intuitive and require less input from users. Google is putting its focus on offering more contextual discovery. This would deliver information about a given user's environment without the user having to take any direct action. To do this, Google would have to cull user behavior over time, compile that data, analyze it, and truly learn what each person wants when they walk out their front door. Google isn't quite there yet, but it hopes to be some day.

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