Google is ahead of Apple and Facebook, both of which had expressed interest in the community-based GPS navigation application.
Google is going to buy Waze, the Israeli start-up that publishes a community GPS navigation application, according to information from the Israeli sites Haaretz and Globes. A move that seems more defensive than strategic. Google would thus cut the ground from under the feet of its two great rivals, Apple and Facebook, which had both shown interest. Mark Zuckerberg’s company is said to have made an offer approaching $1 billion. Discussions with Facebook had stumbled over the price of the transaction and the desire of the founders of Waze to see their teams remain in Israel.
Google seems to have overcome these two obstacles by offering $1.3 billion and agreeing to keep the R&D center in Israel for at least 3 years. Google is therefore taking advantage of the opportunity to increase its presence in the region, where it has acquired two start-ups: the web developer Lappixies and the interactive video specialist Quiksee.
The acquisition of Waze, which now claims more than 50 million users across 110 countries, should give a new dimension to Google Maps, by adding social features and real-time traffic information.