Mobile Map Usage Growing Rapidly

The iPhone and Nokia handsets are the most-used phones for accessing mobile maps, according to ComScore.
Users around the globe are increasingly turning to their mobile phones to get directions, according to new data from ComScore.

The report found that 8% of U.S. wireless subscribers and 3% of European mobile subscribers accessed maps from their mobile handsets between March and May 2008. This represents a growth rate of 82% and 49%, respectively, compared with the same period last year.

"The mobile phone as a personal navigation device makes tremendous sense," said Mark Donovan, senior analyst at ComScore, in a statement. "With the influx of devices, such as the iPhone with GPS, entering the market, Nokia's purchase of Navteq, and the growing popularity of downloadable navigation applications, you don't need a map to see where this sector is going."

The study found that Apple's iPhone was the leading device for U.S. customers to access maps. This can be attributed to the integrated Google Maps, and this is expected to continue now that the iPhone 3G has built-in GPS.

Meanwhile, European users preferred Nokia's N95 and N70. The report said the vast majority of mobile map users are seeking driving directions, even in Europe, where public transportation options are more popular.

According to the report, the majority of users -- 73% in the United States and 57% in Europe -- accessed mobile maps via the handset's browser. Less than a third of customers in these markets used a downloaded application.

As more cell phones sport built-in GPS chips, wireless operators and handset manufacturers are increasingly offering data-heavy navigation services. To counter this increase in competition, Garmin will enter the mobile phone market later this year with the Nuvifone.

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