People are increasingly relying on their mobile phones to deliver maps and directions on the go, according to ComScore.
Data released by ComScore on Friday discovered that 14 percent of all mobile phones users in the U.S., or 33.5 million people, accessed maps on their devices at least once a month over the three months ended April, a 44 percent rise from the same period in 2009.
The number of mobile users who retrieved maps one to three times a month rose 47 percent to 17.1 million, while those accessing maps once a week climbed 60 percent to 11.6 million. And the number of users who checked maps on their cell phones almost every day grew 9 percent to 4.8 million.
Among the people who accessed maps on their mobile devices, 87.2 percent did it from a car or other vehicle, 17.2 percent while walking or biking, and 16.7 percent while using public transportation.
The most common types of maps called up were graphical ones with turn-by-turn directions, used by 60.3 percent of mobile map users. Graphical maps without directions were accessed by 50.6 percent, while turn-by-turn directions without a map were retrieved by 46.8 percent.
"People are increasingly turning to their mobile phone for maps and directions when on the go," Mark Donovan, ComScore senior vice president of mobile, said in a statement. "With summer travel season upon us, we expect even more mobile users to access both maps and location-based local search to help them navigate and find geographically relevant information."
Much of the growth in mobile maps and navigation is being driven by smartphone users as opposed to feature phone users. ComScore defines a smartphone as a mobile device with any of the following operating systems: Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, Google's Android, RIM's BlackBerry, Palm's WebOS, and Symbian. For the three months ending April, 26 percent of smartphone users accessed maps through an app and 19 percent did so through a mobile browser. But only 2 percent of feature phone users grabbed maps via an app and just 4 percent did so via their browser.
Though mobile phone users may appreciate the convenience of accessing maps and directions on the go, the GPS industry is not likely to view ComScore's data as happy news. "Eight-seven percent of of mobile navigation users are accessing maps and directions while driving," Donovan noted, "clearly indicating that the rising sophistication of smartphones poses a challenge to dedicated GPS systems."