Internet usage analyst comScore reports that use of mobile maps has jumped 82 per cent in the US and 49 per cent in Europe – although growth of 72 per cent in the UK is close to that of the US.

Use of online maps via a PC has actually fallen in the UK (from 45 per cent penetration in May 2007 to 41 per cent in May 2008). In the US, the increase in the number of users accessing maps from a mobile device far outpaced the increase in the number of people who accessed maps via the PC.

The increasingly popular use of mobile maps in the US and Europe is marked with 8 per cent of American mobile subscribers and 3 per cent of European subscribers accessing maps from the mobile phone in the three-month period ending May 2008.

According to the comScore M:Metrics Benchmark Study, Apple's iPhone is the leading device used to access maps in the US. In Europe, where the iPhone has been available for a shorter time, Apple’s touchscreen smartphone trails the Nokia N95 and N70.

“The mobile phone as a personal navigation device makes tremendous sense,” observed Mark Donovan, senior analyst at comScore.

“With the influx of devices, such as the iPhone with GPS, entering the market, Nokia’s purchase of NAVTEQ and the growing popularity of downloadable navigation applications, you don’t need a map to see where this sector is going.”

According to comScore, 73 per cent of mobile subscribers accessing maps are doing so via the browser in the US, and in Europe, 57 per cent.

Despite the ubiquity of SMS usage in Europe, the penetration of consumers accessing maps and directions via SMS is 24 per cent; only one percentage point higher than it is in the US.

The vast majority of mobile map users are seeking driving directions.