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Apple Maps 2012: Usage Rate Reportedly Spiked After Release, Then Plummeted (REPORT)

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Apple's infamous Maps app has been available to the public for only two weeks, and users are reportedly abandoning it for more reliable navigation products.

Apple promised that it will improve its botched app, but can it get there fast enough?

The Maps app, which Apple baked into its iOS 6 update to replace Google Maps, has been online for users to download since Sep. 19. Within hours of the release, however, users railed against the app's shortcomings (moving or mislabeling locations among those) and bemoaned the lack of in-app data for public transit routes.

On Oct. 1, mobile data compression service Snappli released the results of a study that found Apple Maps use has plummeted to a dismal 4 percent from a peak of 35 percent since iOS 6 went live. The study examined 5,000 U.S. and U.K. Snappli users.

Snappli also found that 64 percent of its sampled users had switched to iOS 6. This seems to be at least partially in line with an independent report by Chitika Insights, which shows 60 percent of iPhones in the U.S. have been updated to Apple's latest software release.

Though some disputed Snappli's findings, the company on Tuesday published a new blog post defending its data thus:

We were not looking at the total amount of data used by the app. Our goal was to measure popularity, not how data hungry the app was, nor the impact of vector graphics. [...]

Some of you have asked us whether we accounted for variability in traffic over days of the week – the answer is yes, we made the effort to look at usage for the five days before and the five days after a day zero (with day zero being the day each user updated to iOS6).

If Apple Maps usage is in fact tanking, the company isn't doing anything to stop it. In fact, Apple is encouraging exasperated users to switch to rival mapping apps for the time being. On Sept. 28, CEO Tim Cook penned an unprecedented apology letter to critics and customers, writing that Maps "fell short" of expectations and that Apple was "doing everything we can to make Maps better."

Cook also suggested five services that users could try instead, including apps by Bing, MapQuest and Waze, as well as web apps by Nokia and (wait for it) Google Maps. (Learn more about these alternatives here.) Apple is also promoting these apps in a special section of its iTunes App Store.

With Apple giving its blessing to users looking for alternative navigation services, Snappli may well be on-the-money about users ditching Apple Maps. According to GigaOm, the Maps-gate blowback will incite Apple to hustle along the development and release of a stronger product rather than impacting sales of new iDevices.

Amid the Maps fallout last week, BuzzFeed reported that Apple was advertising a slew of new positions within the fledgling Maps division. It's likely that Apple has an uphill battle ahead of it, given that roughly 7,000 people are working for the seven-year-old Google Maps division. Business Insider cites unnamed Googlers who said Google Maps employs 1,100 people full time, with another 6,000 contracted employees contributing.

Apple may even be chasing down people with experience working on Google Maps as it races to push out a better mapping app. An ex-Googler told to TechCrunch last week that the Cupertino giant is wooing Google Maps employees. "Apple has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to build a robust mapping platform to counter Google Maps, so it doesn’t surprise me that it’s going out of its way to lure former and current Google Maps employees," the anonymous insider explained to TechCrunch. "Apple needs to find a way to get its own 5 million miles of street view data, partner with the right folks, and spend a fortune on licensed data – which it can."

Are you an iOS 6 user? Let us know in our quick poll (below) whether or not you're still using Apple Maps on your device.

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What do you think of Apple Maps? Has it made you late or gotten you lost? Do you have horror stories to share? Or rave reviews? Let us know: email us at technology@huffingtonpost.com or tweet @HuffPostTech.

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