What the success of Google Maps on iPhone tells us about Apple and monopolies -- and what the DOJ needs to understand about good products

Google Maps screenshots
(Image credit: Google)

There are all manner of navigation apps for the iPhone. Apple Maps is the default choice, and is pretty extensive these days, but it's far from the only option. Just check the App Store. And in the battle to be top map app, Google Maps seems to have nabbed the chequered flag – even on iPhones.

According to this survey by MarketWatch, a whopping 70% of respondents flagged down Google Maps as their go-to navigation copilot. While Waze, Google's other prodigy in the mapping arena, snagged a commendable second place with 27%, Apple Maps trailed with 25%. It's somewhat unexpected that Google Maps is so popular, when Apple Maps comes enabled by default on the best iPhones – the most popular smartphones in the US.

This MarketWatch study wasn't just about counting hands, though; it was a deep dive into the habits of 1,000 US drivers. The study specifically focused on how these mapping applications were used to spot speed traps -- yep, traps on map apps. But it speaks to the popularity of Google's primary navigation app, especially over Apple's default option.

Despite Apple Maps catching up to Google Maps' feature offerings recently, Google's map app has been a long-time favorite among iPhone owners. Historically, it's offered more features, an integrated experience, and better navigation overall. Plus, you can use it across all Apple devices, most notably CarPlay. In short, it's a good product. Arguably, it's a better product than Apple Maps.

CarPlay Google Maps app

(Image credit: iMore)

So could it be that Google Maps is more popular because it's a better product? While you'd think that's a simple "yes", the DOJ might disagree with you.

The DOJ filed a landmark lawsuit against Apple last week, alleging the company has a smartphone monopoly. In the suit, the government claimed that one of the world's most successful and valuable companies has a stranglehold on phones, and stated bluntly that Apple uses it to extract more money from consumers. "Apple has gone from revolutionizing the smartphone market to stalling its advancement," said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. You can read the full lawsuit here.

Google Maps is an interesting case study here, showing that a good product is usually the more popular option. Which is considered by users to be the case with iPhones, even if the tech-averse folks over at the DOJ might disagree.

If anything, this survey showing the popularity of Google Maps goes directly against the DOJ's lawsuit. The DOJ argues that Apple stifles competitors to make it harder for iPhone users to switch away. And I don't know about you, but the popularity of Google Maps on iPhones isn't particularly stifled. And Google is, I don't know, Apple's biggest competitor, perhaps. It's ironic, really.

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Connor Jewiss

Connor is a technology writer and editor, with a byline on multiple platforms. He has been writing for around seven years now across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech.

  • ok24
    The reason google maps are so popular on iOS is because apple maps are a bunch of crap. They’ve lead me to the other side of town too many times for me to use them.

    post edited by moderator
  • Annie_M
    ok24 said:
    The reason google maps are so popular on iOS is because apple maps are a bunch of crap. They’ve lead me to the other side of town too many times for me to use them.

    post edited by moderator
    Hello and welcome to iMore! When you get a chance, please take a minute to familiarize yourself with iMore's Community Rules & Guidelines. Also when you get a chance, please take a minute to introduce yourself here!
  • Wotchered
    Apple maps seem fine in England and Wales so I use Apple maps !
  • EdwinG
    Apple Maps has been mostly correct in my neck of the woods, in Central Canada.

    The most common issue is the road closures that are sometimes missing. They’re also missing on G Maps.
  • Just_Me_D
    There was a time when I would not depend on Maps as much as others, but that time has long passed. I almost exclusively use Maps, but I will switch to the built-in Maps in my car on occasion.
  • Lee_Bo
    What boggles me is why isn’t Apple Maps, powered my Tom Tom, any better than it is.

    I jumped on the iOS 17 beta train specifically for offline Apple Maps. After downloading both North and South Carolina and navigating to a few areas I’ve been to many times yet letting Apple “lead the way”, it still took me “around my bunghole to get to my elbow”. In this day and age, is Tom Tom that horrible? Or does Google just do it better?

    And don’t get me started on Waze. I wouldn’t recommend that to my worst enemy. I think they suck worse that Apple and they are OWNED by Google.

    I really want to reply on Apple Maps and have even started the process of “moving” all my favorites into Apple Maps. But at this point in time, Google Maps is king of the hill and may remain there for a long time.