Facebook’s mobile service surpassed Google Maps in the fourth quarter of 2012 to become the most popular smartphone and tablet app in the United States, according to new data from the comScore market research firm. But apps made by Google commanded five of the top six spots on comScore’s latest ranking of mobile Internet software.
That’s probably good news for both companies, which are increasingly focused on building out their smartphone and tablet applications as they compete for the attention of Internet users around the world. But it’s probably discouraging for other online companies that want a slice of the mobile pie.
In a blog post on Wednesday, comScore said Facebook’s No. 1 ranking was largely due to Apple’s decision to drop Google Maps as the default app on its popular iPhones and iPads last fall. While that caused a decline in Google Maps usage in October, comScore reported, the Google app “has been clawing its way back” since Google released a new version for Apple gadgets in December.
With Facebook and Google Maps ranked No. 1 and No. 2 as the most widely used apps on mobile devices in December, the next four positions were held by Google Play, Google Search, Gmail and Google’s YouTube. After that, in order: Pandora, iTunes, Cooliris and Yahoo Messenger.
comScore ranks the apps by the number of unique monthly visitors. Using another metric, the firm says Facebook also ranked No. 1 in engagement, as measured by the amount of time users spend on the app. Facebook dominates 23 percent of users’ time, while various Google apps account for about 10 percent.
But again, the combination of the two companies’ apps leave other mobile companies in the dust, by consuming a combined one out of every three minutes that users spent on apps last year.
Next year will present “an interesting dynamic as Google and Facebook wrestle for app supremacy, while other media properties look to carve out a niche or establish a more prominent position,” according to comScore’s Andrew Lipsman.
(User graphic by comScore)