At different points in time, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, and Google were rumored to be in talks to buy Waze. I thought that Facebook and Waze were the better fit, because what differentiates Waze from other mapping applications such as those of Google and Apple was not the mapping capabilities but the social component. It worked because so many people were contributing — passively and actively — information that made Waze so much more valuable than Apple Maps or Google Maps. And what better way to get more content — maps, routes, traffic conditions, hazards, etc. — onto Waze than to promote it heavily among Facebook’s 1 billion plus users? Waze would get more content, and money to keep on going despite a shaky business model, and Facebook would get another foothold in the mobile space with another popular and heavily-used mobile service.
Some people have commented that Google bought Waze just to make sure that neither Facebook nor Apple get their hands on it, but no one from Google or Waze will actually ever say that. In any case, Google says that the “Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now” and that it expects to improve traffic information on Google Maps with the help of Waze, and improve the search capabilities on Waze via Google’s search service.
Hooray for the Waze team because they now have the financial security to keep improving their product, but we Waze users need to keep our fingers crossed and hope it doesn’t go the way that other Google acquisitions such as Dodgeball, Jaiku, and Picnik have.
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