Google has purchased mapping-and-navigation company Waze for $1.1 billion, according to an unnamed source speaking to Bloomberg News.
The newswire suggested the search-engine giant could announce the acquisition as soon as today.
In late May, Bloomberg suggested that Google was ready to engage in a bidding war with Facebook over Waze, which was reportedly holding out for more than $1 billion. The Israeli firm’s eponymous crowdsourced mapping-and-navigation app allows users to share real-time traffic and road information. “It’s like a personal heads-up from a few million of your friends on the road,” reads a blurb on the company’s Website.
Nor were Google and Facebook the only companies (reportedly) in the running to make Waze a subsidiary. Back in January, TechCrunch suggested that Apple was debating whether to acquire the company, with executives haggling over price-points. However, Waze’s emphasis on crowd-sourcing doesn’t make it the best fit for Apple, which traditionally exerts top-down control over its products and their data.
Google has devoted considerable effort to its mapping assets, partially in an effort to hold off other IT firms’ forays into the space. That’s good for startups like Waze, which can find themselves snatched up by one giant or another for massive amounts of cash. For the giants, a mapping platform with millions of loyal users can extend a “halo effect” of sorts to the company’s other products. For example, after Apple began substituting Google-supplied mapping data for its own homebrewed cartographical information, a number of bloggers very publicly debated whether to switch to Android solely in order to keep using Google Maps.
The chance to leapfrog the competition is more than enough reason for a deep-pocketed company such as Google to shell out a cool billion. The only question is what rivals will do in response. Apple is kicking off its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco this week, where it may very well unveil some improvements to its own Maps app. And thus the battle will continue.