Compete, a web analytics company, has tracked people who purchased a GPS unit in June and has examined their online behavior from the month before their purchase to two months following their purchase.
The chart below shows activity at the two largest online web mapping services, Google Maps and MapQuest, before, the month of, and after purchasing a GPS system at major retailers or OEM sites online.
- GPS purchasers visited Google Maps more frequently than MapQuest both before and after the purchase; this matches overall traffic trends seen at these sites (Google Maps had 24% more Unique Visitors in August ’09).
- Interestingly, while the number of people using an online mapping service dropped in the months following purchase (down 22%), a majority of consumers tracked still visited online mapping sites (58% of GPS purchasers tracked visited a mapping site the month following purchase).
One might think that owning a GPS would eliminate the need for other mapping services, but this is not the case. One potential explanation is that people use online maps as a backup in case the GPS does not work properly, perhaps in case of poor reception. Perhaps a more likely reason is people like to use online maps as a reference before getting into their car to find out how far and what the general directions are for the trip.
Google Maps, MapQuest, and other online mapping services probably don’t need to worry about being made entirely obsolete by the GPS unit. However, as GPS usage becomes more and more mainstream, it might push online mapping services to try to improve and integrate their systems with GPS manufacturers so they have a greater reach – in the car and on the computer.