As of Wednesday evening, Google Maps is available to download on the iTunes App Store after a three month hiatus from the iPhone.
Google Maps as we know it was created and designed by Apple, only using Google mapping data. The new and improved version has been completely rendered by Google programmers, meaning there is now potential for new sources of revenue by way of local ads and the ability to tie Maps in with other Google products and services. The precedent has been set with the re-introduced YouTube app that contains video advertising.
According to Daniel Graf, Director of Google Maps for Mobile in his corporate blog post that re-introduces the app, Google Maps “includes detailed information for more than 80 million businesses and points of interest.” For marketers, that is 80 million + advertising opportunities.
Steve Jobs saw Google Maps as a threat to Apple years ago when he began to explore map-related acquisitions and encouraged his team to begin building an application that would compete with its Google counterpart. The culmination of his envisioned product was presumably less (positively) impactful than he imagined.
Apple lovers around the world are defending their Maps application despite blatant flaws and assure us all that the app is getting better over time. But with the excitement generating around Google Map’s availability, it is hard to imagine that they will continue use for long. After only several hours of availability, the app was the most downloaded application in the App Store and within just two days had been downloaded by over ten million iPhone users.
Advertisers around the world should cheer. Last month, the iPhone’s market share in the US rose to 48.1%, meaning almost half of the smartphone users in the country had no choice but to use Apple Maps, which does not serve ads. With such negative reception of Apple Maps, a majority of iPhone users will download and use Google Maps, although ad-free now, will certainly be monetized in the very near future.
Where Apple makes its money on its hardware, Google is focused on revenue from its software. The other existing parts of the equation for both companies (software for Apple and hardware for Google) are in place to compete with one another and stay as relevant as possible in the eyes of the consumer.
At the end of the day, Google is in the business to serve ads, and its Map application will do just that, and well, providing advertisers yet another medium for relevantly reaching their audience.