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Google Buys Waze, In No Mood To Relinquish Its Superior Mapping Abilities

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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.

Google-Waze

Waze

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.

With apps for Android, iOS and other platforms, it is present for almost every user with a smartphone on earth.

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.

Crowd-sourced Data

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.

Social Quotient

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.

Competitive Advantage

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?

  1. Aditya Dey says

    It was expected that Google will buy Waze….I have to say it is a value addition for sure…as you mentioned that Google is the best in the world in mapping services, and it has simply no intentions of letting that go….The deal was expected to be around $1.1 billion, but eventually Google seals it on $1 billion…that is another highlighting point of the deal I guess…With the support of Google, Waze will grow much more and that with a steady speed….In short “Great” addition….

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      @aditya – In my view, the most important reason why Google bought Waze was for competitive reasons. If Apple or Facebook could have got their hands on Waze, then their mapping monopoly would have been in jeopardy and they sure did not want that. Thats the reason why Waze got the price that they got..

      1. Aditya Dey says

        Yeah…you are absolutely right….Google wants to stay one step forward than its competitors like Apple and Facebook…However, Google wants to make some news too, as Apple took the web by storm while unveiling iTunes Radio and iOS 7…

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