Google announced Tuesday that it has bought the mapping application Waze, confirming months of rumors about a deal.
Waze is a social mapping app that displays real-time traffic information by gathering information from its users. “Wazers” can flag bad road conditions, traffic accidents or other road-related disasters to others on their routes to keep them from facing the same fate.
The app gained more prominence last year after Apple chief executive Tim Cook recommended it — along with Bing Maps, MapQuest, Google Maps and Nokia’s mapping service — as a strong program after Apple Maps’ troubled launch. Reports indicated that Google, Facebook and Apple were reportedly interested in the firm to bolster their mapping efforts.
Waze and Google did not disclose the terms of the deal, which Bloomberg reports may have a value of around $1.1 billion.
Mapping plays a particularly important role for companies looking to pick up screentime on mobile devices: As users turn to their phones to get directions, the apps can flash location-based advertisements, deals and other alerts.
Google recently announced its mapping service is getting a makeover with more social data to promote the type of tightly focused interaction Waze is known for. By adding data from its social network, Google+, into its maps, Google will enable restaurant recommendations pop up along way between point A and point B.
With the addition of Waze, however, Google gets access to data that’s arguably more valuable to consumers on a practical level -- if it can keep Waze users from moving on to another app. Waze’s value is in its community, after all, which supplies the travel information. In this case — more than most — Google has to be sure to keep the existing user base happy.
In its official blog post on the subject, Google said that it will work “closely” with the community to ensure that it provides “what’s needed to grow and prosper.”
The company also said that it will be adding Google search capabilities to Waze in addition to putting some of Waze’s data into its own mapping program.