Google Maps loses top mobile app slot to Facebook, thanks to Apple Maps

Though technically a bust, Apple Maps pulled market share from Google Maps, thereby giving Facebook the win for 2012

While Apple Maps was a debacle from a technical standpoint, it was still something of a success in that it cost rival Google Maps the top spot among U.S. mobile apps for 2012. With Apple running interference, Facebook secured the No. 1 position for the year, according to newly released data from ComScore.

Google, however, can take comfort in the fact that four of its mobile offerings -- Google Maps, Google Play, Google Search, and Gmail -- sit prettily among the top 10 mobile apps for 2012.

Apple made the controversial decision to evict Google Maps from iOS 6 in favor of its newly minted Apple Maps app back in September. Apple Maps proved rife with errors, some as severe as entire cities missing or placed in the ocean. Apple knew this before it released iOS 6, as developers had complained for months during the beta-testing cycle about the app's problems.

Yet Apple can pat itself on the back for playing the spoiler role: Forcing iOS users off of Google Maps resulted in a significant decline in usage in October, according to ComScore VP of Industry Analysis Andrew Lipsman. Google Maps slipped to the No. 2 spot among the top mobile apps for the year, swapping positions with Facebook.

Google Maps loses top mobile app slot to Facebook, thanks to Apple Maps

Google Maps' unseating may be temporary, though. "Google Maps has been clawing its way back the past few months after getting reinstated on iOS 6, so look for the competition for the #1 spot to heat up as we head into 2013," Lipsman wrote.

The full list of the top 10 U.S. mobile apps for 2012, ranked by unique visitors ages 18 and up running iOS or Android, is:

  1. Facebook, around 85,574,000 users
  2. Google Maps, around 74,631,000
  3. Google Play, 61,461,000 users
  4. Google Search, 60,587,000 users
  5. Gmail, 53,934,000 users
  6. YouTube, 52,572,000 users
  7. Pandora Radio, 48,023,000 users
  8. Apple iTunes, 45,884,000 users
  9. Cooliris, 42,927,000 users
  10. Yahoo Messenger, 36,124,000 users

According to ComScore, Facebook also boasts the highest level of mobile-user engagement -- the amount of time users spend using the app per visit. Facebook accounts for 23 percent of time user spent on mobile apps in 2012, according to Lipsman, while Instagram owns another 3 percent of the market. The collection of Google apps accounts for 10 percent of time spent, with Gmail owning the lion's share at 3 percent.

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