Google Confirms £831m Waze Navigation Purchase

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Google has flexed its financial muscle and snapped up Waze, which had also been courted by Apple and Facebook

Google has finally confirmed industry rumours and acquired the Waze crowd-based traffic and navigation app for mobile devices.

The transaction was rumoured in various reports on 10 June, but Google unveiled the finished deal on 11 June in a post on the Official Google Blog.

Done Deal

“To help you outsmart traffic, today we’re excited to announce we’ve closed the acquisition of Waze,” wrote Brian McClendon, vice president of Google’s Geo unit, in the post.

“We’ve all been there: stuck in traffic, frustrated that you chose the wrong route on the drive to work,” wrote McClendon. “But imagine if you could see real-time traffic updates from friends and fellow travellers ahead of you, calling out ‘fender bender … totally stuck in left lane!’ and showing faster routes that others are taking.”

That’s where Waze comes in, he wrote, using user-generated reports on traffic and navigation information to help drivers ease their commuting stresses. “This fast-growing community of traffic-obsessed drivers is working together to find the best routes from home to work, every day,” he wrote.

Google will pay $1.3 billion (£831m) to acquire the Israeli community-based traffic and navigation app startup Waze to add to Google’s growing portfolio of popular and revenue-enhancing mapping tools, according to the earlier reports.

Under the deal, the Waze product development team will remain in Israel and will operate separately for now, which were both issues that previously halted a recent possible acquisition of Waze by Facebook.

Maps Enhancement

“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,” wrote McClendon. “We’ll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this app, to ensure they have what’s needed to grow and prosper.”

google_carDan Maycock, a mobile IT analyst for Slalom Consulting, told eWEEK that the Waze acquisition is a good move for Google.

“I think this strengthens Google Maps and helps them go after other GPS vendors as the tool you’ll want to use to drive in your car, beyond what Google Maps is capable of today,” said Maycock in an email. “Seeing Apple come out with the in-dash option in 2014 models of certain cars, and Nokia beta testing DRIVE leveraging their subsidiary Navteq, along with Microsoft SYNC platform, the car is becoming a hotbed for who will be the in-dash service you’ll use for everything from traffic to music.”

What the Waze move shows, according to Maycock, is that “along with Google’s self-driving car project, that Google is serious about taking on transportation, and this purchase will not only be something that’s integrated into Android as an ace in their in-dash services but also one of a number of acquisitions down the road that will lead up to their self-driving car initiative.”