Google has officially purchased the mapping service Waze for a reported $1.3 billion, as the company looks to beef up Google Maps and further dismantle its competition.
Waze takes data submitted by its users (some 28 million members now) to build real-time traffic reports. By using crowdsourcing, drivers can upload information on traffic accidents, construction, gas prices and detours to let other drivers know on the fly. For an added spin, the app also lets users see when people they know are driving to the same destination. Facebook, Nokia and Apple put in bids to swoop up the service, with Facebook's bid falling through because of Waze employees expressing their desire to remain in the Israel based office. Google has offices in Tel Aviv and Haifa, so the employees can stay put.
"It's not giving you turn-by-turn directions," says Carolina Milanesi, a consumer technology analyst at Gartner. "It's about knowing where you are, who you're with, adding location and social together and making it very powerful from an application perspective, but also monetizable from an advertising perspective. So that's right at the core of what Google's business is."