Category: News Published Date Written by darknight Hits: 1139
Google has bought the mapping service Waze, a Google Maps competitor that relies on user data to build accurate maps with real-time traffic reports. Neither company disclosed the terms of the deal, though The New York Times pegged the figure at $1.03 billion.
Google confirmed the purchase in a blog post (click here) on Tuesday: "The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now. We’re excited about the prospect of enhancing Google Maps with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze and enhancing Waze with Google’s search capabilities."
Apple as well as Facebook were also reportedly interested in buying Waze to provide real time service to the users.
That may seem like a premium for a company with just 28 million users, but the deal is largely a defensive play as Google moves to preserve its dominance in mobile mapping. There aren't many companies with mapping databases as good as Waze's, said Carolina Milanesi, a consumer technology analyst at Gartner. Waze would also have been a strategic acquisition for Facebook, Apple, or Nokia, she said. "Google is not leaving it on the plate for Apple or Facebook to buy," she said. "They're staying ahead of the game and being able to continue to be the leader in the maps space."
What is Waze?
Waze differs from traditional GPS navigation software as it is a community-driven application and learns from users' driving times to provide routing and real-time traffic updates. It was developed in 2008 by the Israeli start-up Waze Mobile for GPS-enabled smartphones with a data plan. Waze supports Android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 8 and J2ME (RIM).
Waze won the Best Overall Mobile App award at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, beating Dropbox, Flipboard and others. According to the company over 20m people were using the service as of June 2012, twice the number of people using the service six months previously. Waze claims users have driven over 3.2bn miles using the service.
How does Waze work?
After typing in their destination address, users just drive with the app open on their phone to passively contribute traffic and other road data, but they can also take a more active role by sharing road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way, helping to give other users in the area a 'heads-up' about what's to come.
In addition to the local communities of drivers using the app, Waze is also home to an active community of online map editors who ensure that the data in their areas is as up-to-date as possible.