Update: Google has now officially confirmed the acquisition of Waze. Original story follows...
Following weeks of speculation, it would appear that Google has plans to purchase Waze after all, a service that makes use of information from people’s smartphones to develop real-time traffic data. The search giant will reportedly acquire the Israeli-based company for $1.3 billion, providing it with a valuable asset that should help them to keep competitors Apple and Facebook at bay.
This is not the first time a Waze buyout has been proposed. Last May, Forbes wrote that Facebook was interested in purchasing Waze to the tune of $1 billion. Sales talks continued up until just a few weeks ago, where disagreements over the location of the company’s headquarters caused the deal to fold. The big problem was that Waze wanted to stay in Israel, while Facebook insisted on relocating the company to California.
In hopes of appeasing Waze’s CEO, Noam Bardin, Google has promised to keep the corporation in Israel for a minimum of three years. Over this time span, Waze will also remain an independent company and its brand image will stay separate from that of Google.
That being said, analysts speculate that Google will start to integrate Waze’s navigation service into their own product offerings following the 2016 deadline.
So why the sudden interest in Waze? Not only does Google want to add one of the premier navigation services to their fleet, but they want to prevent Facebook from becoming a serious threat.
Ha’aretz, an Israeli news source, added, “Google’s interest in Waze stems principally from its aim of blocking Facebook growth. The search company operates its own navigation service that competes head on with Waze. It has invested heavily in its system, including the ambitious Google Street View database of images and satellite images.”