MapQuest. You know who you are... my question to you is, why? According to the latest numbers from Hitwise, Google Maps is making significant inroads against market leader MapQuest. MapQuest still commands over 50% of the market, but Google is clearly the number two online map provider now, having passed and distanced itself from Yahoo! earlier this year. Shouldn't Google have taken over the lead a long time ago? What's the hold up?Alright, who are you people? The people who still use
Traffic to MapQuest is flat on the year, while Google's traffic to its maps site has risen 135% over the same time period. Hitwise points to downstream traffic from Google as the culprit -- Google, which the company says accounts for almost 66% of US search traffic, is sending more traffic to its own Maps property than to MapQuest. Even though the term "mapquest" gets 10 times the search volume than the term, "google maps," for generic terms like "maps" Google is sending people to its own service.
"The same is true for 'driving directions,' 'map' and "directions' as well as variations on the MapQuest brand name including 'mapquest driving directions' and 'map quest,'" wrote Hitewise's Heather Hopkins. Is Google favoring its own property? Maybe. But I'm honestly surprised MapQuest is still so far out in front.
Google's service has long been the better option. Certainly, AOL has improved the MapQuest service in the past year, and the beta version that they launched in October fixes some of the most glaring pain point still evident in the classic service, such as the lack of multipoint directions and 4 imput boxes for location. But even so, MapQuest consistently lags behind Google in ease of use, design, functionality, and innovation.
Google's is continuously innovating with their Maps service, in the past year adding useful features like Street View (helpful if trying to find a building you've never been to before), MyMaps, which has enabled all sorts of cool maps mashups (like this one mapping the results of the New Hampshire primaries), and draggable destinations when plotting trips.
So why is it that people still use MapQuest when Google is clearly the superior product? The answer is in the brand. MapQuest has been around since the mid-90s and the name was firmly ingrained in our collective psyche during the first dot com boom. As the search volume of "mapquest" vs. "google maps" shows, the name MapQuest is still synonymous with online mapping. Still, Google also has a strong brand (the most powerful in the world last year, according to Millard Brown Optimor), and Google has one thing AOL and MapQuest don't have: control of the world's search market. Expect Google Maps to continue taking market share in online mapping.