One of the key thoughts in my previous post on the maps tussle between Apple and Google was that the struggle is not about immediate revenue. Instead, I suggested that ownership of geo-behavioral data and overall strategic positioning are at stake. I also predicted that Apple will eventually bring to market an "Offers" like program along the lines of Google's existing service. Overall, the future of Apple Maps could tie in offers, iAd, Passbook, and other elements for a comprehensive service that is on par (and in some ways assuredly better than) Google's current suite of Map/Local/Nav/Offers/Check-in services.
But if Apple and Google are only jockeying for position now, with little discernible revenue to be gained, the longer-term opportunity has to be significant, right? So, how big of an opportunity are we really looking at? I think I can begin to give some shape to what the answer might be.
- We should assume a consumer base that has +90% smartphone adoption. It's only a few years away...
- We should assume steep adoption of maps services in parallel with this smartphone adoption.
- We should assume that a geo-aware coupon or "offer" model like Google's will eventually become a persistent characteristic of the mobile commerce landscape. Also assume that it also will grow in parallel with smartphone adoption. (Note: such a service should not be confused with substantially less useful services like Groupon.)
If Apple, Google, and other mobile players are able to use their offers platforms to monetize just 0.5% of this market for themselves, it represents an opportunity worth $35 billion annually, which is approximately equal to Google's entire annual revenues. Assuming the eventual ubiquity of the smartphone and its proven ability to change consumer behavior, this is a realistic end game within mobile.
By Aaron Zwas -- Director of Emerging Technologies at Digital Marketing Works