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Connecting the Mobility World

Route planner apps, on the way to the Mobility as a Service

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Google Maps, Apple Plans, Citymapper, Mappy, Transit,… There is a high probability that you have at least one of these applications on your phone. Indeed, according to a survey conducted by the Automobile Club Association (ACA) and 9 Automobile Clubs, nearly 60% of Europeans have 1 or 2 mobility applications on their phone. But with the rise of the cell phone, many apps are emerging on the market. Initially designed for car journeys, these platforms are gradually diversifying in order to reach a maximum number of users. Public transportation, trains, VTC, self-service bicycles and scooters, carpooling, parking… Focus on these multimodal platforms addressing a wider change in approach, tending to Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

In the TOP 5 of the most used apps in 2020

Between social, chat, games, music or banking applications, “plan” type applications are used each month by more than one out of every two users. In fact, in the third quarter of 2020, with 61.8% of users, they occupied 5th position in the world’s most used applications. Behind messaging, social, shopping and video applications.

Apps generally used once a week or even every day for some. Indeed, according to the ACA survey, more than 70% of Europeans use “plan” type applications. Both in their city and when they are abroad. Thought and designed to accompany and guide us, they are nowadays real and suitable travel assistants.

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Even more so in this period of pandemic. Indeed, whether in times of end of lockdown or curfew, traffic or public transportation networks have been severely disrupted. Between traffic jams, delays, cancellations, many of us have turned to these applications. Their primary objective is to anticipate and plan their journeys as well as possible. This is demonstrated by the Médiamétrie/Netrating barometer of May 2020. Remember at that time, France had barely been had just put an end to its containment. A situation that greatly benefited websites and applications such as “plans/maps/route planning”. With an audience increase of more than 49%, it found itself at the top of the podium. This represents a leap of no less than 8.6 million unique visitors per day. As an example, this was the case of Mappy, which saw its audience increase by 48% in May.

Google Maps, the current leader app with nearly 70% market share

For route calculation and planning apps, Google Maps doesn’t even need to show up anymore. Available in 220 countries, the Mountain View company has succeeded in gaining a near monopoly of the market in 16 years. With more than one billion active users per month. But also by these 67% market share in 2018. And this, despite the latest “Google Maps Hack” made by a Berlin artist who managed to fool the famous application with 99 smartphones.

Indeed, according to a survey by The Manifest, Google Maps is well ahead of Waze, bought by Google in 2013 (12%), Apple Maps (11%) & MapQuest, owned by AOL (8%). And despite the proliferation of new free applications, Google Maps has managed to keep its place as champion. And this in particular by developing its platform by promoting a multimodal offer.

Google Maps Bike multimodal
© Google Maps

From the arrival of Google Transit with public transport in 2005, to the integration of geolocation for free-floating scooters (Lime & Bolt), VTC services (Uber, Lyft, Ola,…) or carpooling (BlaBlaCar), the Web giant is no longer content to simply plan journeys by car or on foot. Today, the application offers several mobility alternatives. Alternatives that have made Google Maps today want to be identified as the marketplace for mobility. It can be used for urban, short or long distance journeys.

And the giant of Silicon Valley does not stop there…

Indeed, of the last services mentioned above, Google only placed itself as an intermediary. Because to book these services, the user was then redirected to the partner site. A commercial partnership allowing Google to be remunerated for each reservation made, from its application or site. Since September 2020, the Californian leader has taken it one step further by partnering with the Passport parking application. This collaboration has enabled Austin to become the first American city in which motorists can pay for their parking space. And this directly from Google Maps, without any redirection. A new feature that reflects one of the new challenges of route applications. Namely, responding to the new demand generated by the emergence of Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

Google Maps parking pay Austin
© Google Maps

Mobility as Service (MaaS), the holy grail of mobility

Today, MaaS is unquestionably heralded as the new revolution in mobility. Namely, a single application bringing together all modes of public and private transportation. Including route search, passenger information and, above all, booking/purchasing and payment. A new vision, straight from the Nordic countries, with the pioneering mobile application Whim, developed by Finnish startup MaaS Global in 2017. An application that allows all Helsinkians to organize, book and pay for their trips, regardless of the mode of transport they choose.

An application that is increasingly being developed in several European cities. According to the ACA, nearly 7 out of 10 Europeans say they are interested in a single application for all means of transportation. Classified in 4 levels, today the majority of route applications belong to the first level of MaaS applications. These are applications allowing real-time planning including different means of transport.

In the Apple Store’s ranking of the 10 best navigation applications in France, as of January 31, 2021, there were 6 multimodal applications. Namely, Google Maps, Assistant SNCF, Ile-de-France Mobilités, Citymapper, Moovit, Mappy and Transit. And among these apps, only two of them have reached level 2 of MaaS in France. Namely, Assistant SNCF & Ile-de-France Mobilités. A second level includes MaaS apps for both planning and payment. By way of comparison, in England, Citymapper reaches the third level via its Citamapper PASS. A card including a subscription allowing access to different modes of transport (public transport, bicycles & cabs). A booming market…

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