An Israeli news website, Globes, is reporting that Google is set to acquire Waze, the maps application that puts a lot of focus on social, crowdsourced data. Reports of the possible purchase emerged in late May, when an apparent deal with Facebook fell through. Apple were rumored to be interested last year, but Tim Cook denied any talks took place at D11.
What does this mean for Google Maps? I am not too sure, other than more data that could be used to improve their own service. Some features such as lane assistance and hazard reporting might get ported over. However, I do wonder how much of this is a defensive move to ensure that Apple or Facebook do not get their hands on Waze, which has some 50 million users. Integrating Google+ login and other properties such as Places and Zagat reviews with Waze’s social strengths might be possible/
I can’t see Google supporting two mapping solutions in the long run, so this deal means Waze would probably be a part of spring cleaning in 2014 or 2015. Waze has a good team (well, certainly miles better than Apple’s) but I don’t think they would be subject to such an expensive acquihire.
I’m going to be scratching my head on this for a while, trying to think of any possibility that might explain the purchase. Until then, I would suggest downloading their app to understand what the fuss is all about.