TECH

Google Buys Waze: Social Mapping App Will 'Enhance' Google Maps

06/11/2013 12:15 pm ET | Updated Jun 11, 2013

Waze finally has a buyer.

Google on Tuesday announced that it had bought Waze, a social GPS mapping app that specializes in real-time crowd-sourced traffic.

The price was not disclosed but a report on Monday in The New York Times put the number at more than $1 billion. AllThingsD, a well-respected technology blog, said the deal was $1.1 billion, according to its sources.

"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," Brian McClendon, Google's vice president of Geo, wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

Both Facebook and Apple were reportedly interested in buying Waze. Google's purchase now keeps those rivals away from the app.

"That is a competitive move in my eyes," said Thilo Koslowski, the vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner, a technology research firm. "So that Facebook and Apple and maybe even others going forward cannot make that same move."

Waze's product development team will stay in Israel, where the company, now based in Palo Alto, Calif., was founded.

Wazers, as they're called, alert each other to accidents, road closures and other things that would potentially slow down traffic. Koslowski said that these social elements are among the motivations behind Google's purchase.

"I think Google was trying to crack the code on this and that's what they're getting with Waze," he said, adding that the app's crowdsourced information will "become another data input for Google Maps."

"I think you will see Google maps leveraging the insights from users of the Waze application for their map data quality," said Koslowski. "And that will make a stronger map."

Waze says it has 47 million global users, according to The New York Times.

The free app makes money from location-based advertising. TechCrunch reported in January that the company's 2012 revenue was less than $1 million.

This post has been updated with comments from Thilo Koslowski and additional information about Waze.

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