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Google Maps Loses Market Share Lead in China For First Time

Steven Millward

New stats for mobile mapping clients used in China show that Google Maps has, for the first time ever, lost its leading position in the country, losing it by a fraction to Autonavi (NASDAQ:AMAP - News).

Beijing-based research firm Analysys International found that Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG - News) Maps app now accounts for 25.3 percent of mobile client usage, pipped by Autonavi’s 25.5 percent. In the industry as a whole, the accumulated number of map accounts was at 135 million at the end of 2011, up 34.6 percent on the previous quarter.

When we last looked at the stats from the same source for 2011 Q1, we saw Google Maps dominant with 46.3 percent market share. But by the end of that year that was nearly halved.

Looking at 2011 Q4 and Q1 side-by-side (see the two pie charts below), we see a great deal of growth for Baidu’s (NASDAQ:BIDU - News) map app, quadrupling its market share; while Nokia’s Ovi maps lost ground somewhat - though not as badly as its failing phone sales would suggest:

(Note that Google Docs butchered my manually-entered numbers: 25.5 and 25.3 percent are the actual figures).

Since the stats come from the same research group, there should be constant methodology applied, and it should give a fair representation of which apps Chinese consumers are turning to for their online mapping needs. Note that the figures don’t include which services are uses within various social media apps, such as LBS apps like Jiepang, which might otherwise make Google and Baidu appear stronger relative to Autonavi.

Google has been struggling in China for some time, and it became markedly worse after its making a stand against web censorship in mainland China. When we last looked at search engine market share figures, they revealed that Google has sunk to third place in China below Sohu’s (NASDAQ:SOHU - News) Sogou.com.

[Source: Analysys International]