In further evidence that geospatial technology is core to smartphone strategy, Google has purchased Israeli-based navigation startup, Waze for more than USD 1 billion.
Waze, which started in 2007, uses crowd-sourced data to create traffic and hazard notifications for other Waze users in the area. In addition to traffic congestion, users can input traffic accidents, speed cameras, hazards, petrol prices and more into the app, which then aggregates the data, and helps other uses avoid delays.
Waze has been flirting with acquisition for a little while now, with both Facebook and Apple being potential suitors. Facebook reportedly backed out of the billion-dollar deal when Waze, which has offices in Israel, New York, and Silicon Valley, was unwilling to relocate its Israeli-based engineering team to Facebook’s U.S. headquarters.
The purchase by Google means that Google will likely integrate the traffic information generated by Waze’s 47 million users into its Google Maps product. It also simultaneously destroys a competitor to its Maps product, while keeping out of the hands of its rivals – namely, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and Facebook.
Comparisons are obviously drawn to the photo sharing service, Instagram, which Facebook acquired last year for a similarly staggering USD 1 billion.