Google buys map-software provider Waze for $1b

Waze screenGoogle said on June 12 it has acquired map-software provider Waze Inc. seeking to keep competitors such as Facebook and Apple from eroding its lead in mobile-navigation programmes. Terms of the deal for Waze, with offices in Israel and Palo Alto, California, weren’t disclosed in Google’s blog post announcing the purchase. The price was about $1.1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

As consumers shift to smartphones and tablets and away from personal computers, Facebook and Google are increasing efforts to court customers on the move. Waze, whose mobile app solicits input from almost 50 million users to improve directions and display traffic and road-hazard details, would provide social features for Google’s navigation tool. It may also help Google extend its dominance in maps over rival Apple.

Nate Tyler, a spokesman for Google, and Julie Mossler, a spokeswoman for Waze, declined to comment on the terms of the deal. Google had been discussing a deal with Waze since at least May 23.

Waze would let Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, eliminate a threat to its home-grown navigation app. It would also keep a growing provider of mapping software away from other companies, including Facebook, the world’s largest social network. Facebook, aiming to bolster its own mobile strategy, offered Waze almost $1 billion last month, two people familiar with the matter said in May.

Waze’s mobile app, which runs on Apple’s iOS operating system and Google’s Android software, alerts users to potential traffic slowdowns or suggests alternative ways to reach destinations. The service also notifies drivers of road work, speed traps other potential hazards, using input from users. With free tools available over the Web and on mobile devices, Waze generates revenue via location-based advertising.