Report: Google to Acquire Waze to Help Improve Maps Services

The tech giant is rumored to have spent more than $1 billion to acquire the Israel-based service.

(Paul Sakuma/AP)

"This is just one important way for Google to keep their edge," says one tech industry expert. "Google has to stay hot."

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Google announced Tuesday that the company has acquired Waze, a real-time traffic and navigation app that gives users the ability to report traffic conditions, travel times and gas prices across a vast user network.

News of the deal was posted to Google's company blog by Google's Vice President of Geoproducts, Brian Anderson.

"This fast-growing community of traffic-obsessed drivers is working together to find the best routes from home to work, every day," Anderson wrote.

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The deal has been rumored for weeks, with Apple and Facebook trying to outbid Google for the Israel-based service. Terms of the deal were not officially disclosed, but the Israeli newspaper Globes reports the deal could be as high as $1.3 billion.

The acquisition comes as Google tries to increase its presence in two markets where the company already has a strong foothold: providing new services and upgrading existing ones on its widely-used mobile platforms and navigation tools.

"This is just one important way for Google to keep their edge," says tech industry analyst Jeff Kagan. "Google has to stay hot."

Kagan says that while acquiring Waze was likely a move to keep the company from being snatched up by one of Google's competitors, Waze is attractive to Google due to the distinctive way it interacts with its users.

"Waze does things differently," Kagan says. "They have a very unique user base that communicates with them in a unique way. It's another slice of the navigation pie, so it adds more value to Google."

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Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum, a technology analysis firm, says another key asset for Google is Waze's popularity on Apple products.

"Waze also has the benefit of being somewhat popular in the Apple ecosystem and of having a strong community element to it, something Google still struggles with," Cripps said in an email. "Leveraged sensibly, this functionality could strengthen Google's broader social strategy."

In the official announcement, Anderson says Waze's product development team will remain based in Israel for the time being, integrating Waze into Google's navigation apps while also adding search functions to Waze's app. Globes reports that Facebook's reluctance to keep Waze based in Israel recently caused a similar deal to fall apart.

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