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Google Maps Hits 1 Billion Downloads, Leaving Apple Maps in the Dust

Google Maps for Android just hit one billion downloads. Source: Google.

There's been a constant back-and-forth between Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Maps app and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) Maps, with the iMaker playing a huge game of catch-up. Samsung's (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF  ) massively popular devices have been a big part of Google Maps' success -- and the latest data shows Apple still has its work cut out for it.

One billion downloads don't lie
Android Police reported recently that Google Maps had reached one billion app downloads this month. That comes just one month after the Gmail app reached the same milestone. As the site mentioned, the one billion number is actual downloads to single Google Play accounts, so it doesn't even count multiple Google Maps downloads to different devices on the same Google account.

Google has Samsung to thank for much of this, as the South Korean-based company is the largest manufacturer of mobile devices running Android. Samsung's line of Galaxy devices propelled Android to the top of the mobile operating system food chain, and with it Google's native apps.

Native apps are an extremely important part of Google's mobile efforts, as apps like Google Maps use a person's location to deliver ads to the user -- one of Google's core revenue streams.

Apple Maps on iOS 7. Source: Apple.

Comparing apples to oranges
It's no secret Apple Maps didn't get off on its best foot, but major improvements along the way have made it a strong competitor to Google's offering. Because Apple doesn't make an app for Android, comparing the company's Maps downloads to Google's wouldn't be a fair fight.

Both Apple and Google know how powerful native apps can be, which is why Apple improving its own app and Google hitting one billion downloads are both significant. While Apple doesn't place ads in its Maps app, it clearly wants to keep iOS users away from Google Maps in order to steer ad revenue away from its competitor. And any major updates to Maps in the coming iOS release this fall could continue to help with that.

While Google has lost some of its control with Android over the years as Samsung's device popularity has taken off, the company still owes much of its native app success like Maps to the company. With Samsung's new Galaxy S5 outpacing S4 sales in the first month after its launch, it appears Google may continue to hit new download milestones on the back of Samsung's devices. With iOS 8, and likely a larger iPhone 6, launching this fall Apple will try to keep iOS users firmly within its ecosystem, and from wandering over to Google's offering. Doing so is an increasingly important goal for Apple, as Google's mobile OS continues to dominate the mobile OS space. 

Mobile is about to be unseated
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Chris Neiger

Chris has covered Tech and Telecom companies for The Motley Fool since 2012. Follow him on Twitter for the latest tech stock coverage.

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