Google Maps app drives iPhone iOS 6 upgrades

Apple [AAPL] has seen a spike in iOS upgrades since the release of Google Maps for the iPhone, a report from MoPub claims.

[ABOVE: One from Apple's latest batch of iPhone ads which declare the device to be "smaller and bigger", though the laws of physics also say what goes up must go down…]

Pent-up demand

Mobile ads network, MoPub claims to have observed a 29 percent increase in unique iOS 6 users since the release of Google Maps for iOS.

TechCrunch aggregates data from MoPub and Chitika to note that many iOS users only chose to upgrade to iOS 6 once Google had released Maps.

"MoPub’s CEO laid it out for me, explaining “we observed since the launch of Google Maps for iOS 6 a 30 percent increase in unique iOS 6 users, and we think it’s related to Google Maps. It verifies the hypothesis that people were actually holding back to upgrade until Google Maps was available," the report states.

This claim tallies with one from Google's Jeff Huber, who cited over 10 million installations of Google Maps for iOS within just 48-hours of launch.

The idea that some iOS users delayed upgrade on strength of their concerns for Apple Maps seems accurate. Anecdotally I'm aware of iOS users who delayed installation of iOS 6 due to the negative reception of the app. Though Apple is now improving its service rapidly.

Go Google -- WSJ

Google Maps for iOS won critical acclaim from The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg: "Apple is already improving its competing app, but for now, iPhone users, my recommendation is to go with Google Maps," Mossberg said.

It's not all good news for Google: the company faces criticism that the app's location data sharing feature is switched on by default: German data protection watchdogs at the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection warn this contravenes European data protection law.

They also warn that Google's promise that such data that is collected is "anonymous" is misleading:

"Google's definition of "anonymous" doesn't guarantee users complete anonymity. "All available information points to having linkable identifiers per user," which would allow Google to track several location entries...

"This is clearly not anonymous," she said, adding that she had to assume that Google's "anonymous location data" is still "personal data" under European data protection law." Computerworld.

The battle for control of this user data is thought to have been part of the reason Apple attempted to unseat Google from iOS. Unfortunately the decision to introduce a flawed service served to further entrench Google on iOS.

No flash in the pan

Apple's Maps has cost the company reputation, impacted end users, seen the removal of high-ranking executives and generated far more criticism than its decision not to support Flash ever did.

To be fair, increased competition around mobile maps means iOS users now have a Google Maps app that's far better than before, along with a plethora of other alternative solutions. Apple itself is working furiously to improve its own solution, possibly even to the extent of acquiring TomTom.

This focus on improving mapping services for iPhones can only be a good thing for customers.

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