Google is one of the best Mapping companies in the world (probably the best but let’s not get into that argument) and with the recent updates presented in Google I/O we see that the service is getting a lot better.
Maps has been one of the services by Google that has grown exponentially and since its inception has seen continuous improvements. Even is a country like ours where the existence of the road itself can be dicey the maps usually come out better. In my experience it is usually better than asking people around (they can mislead more often).
Now, its latest acquisition shows that it is not going to give other mapping services (Apple anyone!) even breathing time. Google has bought a mapping service out of Israel at over $1 billion.
Waze is a mapping service that is different in the regard that it is a crowd sourced service. What this means is that the service is community driven and thus the data that Waze collects is from the people that are using Waze.
This gives Waze an amazing ability to get data like traffic accidents, hazards and other events that are happening on the road. Currently the number of users around the world are around 50 million and as the number of users increase the service will automatically improve as more data is collected by the service.
I have used the Waze app for Android and while the interface wasn’t as smooth as Google (till now!), the maps themselves are useful.
The ultimate question is why would Google buy a new mapping service when it already has its own awesome one? Especially when the number of users of Waze (50 million) is relatively much less compared to its own.
I see three reasons for it.
One reason is obviously the data. Data sets curated by Waze are crowd sourced and hence different from what Google has created itself. Combining the two, Google might have the most comprehensive data where mapping the globe is concerned.
Second reason is the social element that Waze has. Waze, unlike Google Maps, is inherently social and this will give Google another opportunity to leverage its Google+.
Even now, without realizing it, we have Google+ surrounding our lives and if one day the actual switch from Facebook to Google+ happens everything would already be integrated and give Google+ a massive boost.
The third reason that I can see is that Waze was under the radar of two competing companies – Apple and Facebook. While Apple more needs it than wants it, Facebook wants it to improve its app quotient. Facebook knows mobile is the future and with its latest App it wants to steal Android’s thunder.
Maps is something that could do this for Facebook. Apple of course would do anything to remove the stains of the past and Waze would have been the perfect opportunity. Google of course decided to remove such threats completely.
So, have any of you guys used Waze? Do you think there is any chance for other companies to win the Map War against Google?