AOL’s MapQuest sees surge in popularity in wake of iPhone 5 release

Wed, Oct 3, 2012


Late last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook issued an apology to iPhone users over the shortcomings in Apple’s homegrown mapping application. Indeed, the days previous were filled with user complaints and, depending on your vantage point, comical photographic examples of Apple’s Maps app displaying incorrect information.

Cook promised that Apple would work relentlessly to get its own Maps app up to part, but in the meantime, he made a bold move in recommending that users check out competing mapping applications in the interim, even going so far as suggesting users might want to add a URL widget to their iPhone homescreen.

The letter reads in part:

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

In light of the iPhone 5’s mapping shortcomings, and no doubt bolstered by Apple’s own spotlight, AOL’s MapQuest has been the most downloaded navigation app on the iTunes App Store since the iPhone 5 went on sale about 10 days ago.

Speaking to the New York Times, MapQuest representative Jennifer Asbury intimated that there may be other factors behind MapQuest’s sudden success, but did concede that sales have significantly risen in the wake of the iPhone 5 release.

Ms. Asbury said the surge followed a trend the company had been seeing for the entire year, a 35 percent increase in downloads of its mobile maps product across all devices, including the iPhone, from the previous year. The company has 17 million users. The company said its turn-by-turn navigation has been a popular feature of its maps, on that was not available for the iPhone until Appleā€™s latest release.

Indeed, I’ve been using MapQuest – in conjunction with Google Maps – for many months simply because the former provides turn by turn directions while Google Maps on iOS never did. So perhaps MapQuest has, in fact, been building up momentum over the past few years with the iPhone 5 release providing an even extra boost in visibility and of course downloads.

Looking at the top performing free navigation apps on iTunes right now, MapQuest of course is in the top slot, followed by Waze, HopStop Transit Directions, and GPS by TeleNav.

And out of curiosity I hopped on over to the most popular paid navigation apps, and stumbled across something called MotionX GPS Drive. I haven’t given it a test drive (pardon the pun) just yet, but one of its features seemed particularly interesting – “New active land guidance for complex intersections, highway interchanges and exits.” Might be worth checking out.


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