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Report: Google to buy Waze traffic service for $1.3B

On the heels of an official Windows Phone release of the popular traffic service Waze, a report from the well-established Israeli paper the Globe states that Google will pick up the company for $1.3 billion USD.

Google, Facebook and even Apple were all rumored to be interested in buying the Israeli-based company, with Apple gaining the most from the purchase as they could continue to distance themselves from Google and their Maps. Evidently, due to the high price though, Apple never submitted an official offer.

Facebook though was serious about a purchase but because they could not guarantee that Waze development would stay in Israel, Waze was less interested. Meanwhile, Google had previously bought two other Israeli companies--Labpixies acquired for $25 million and Quix for 8-10 million—back in 2010. Both companies have retained operations in Israel.

With the admittedly massive purchase, Google is expected to strengthen its grip on mapping and traffic data, expanding their focus on social-interaction in data-mining. For those who aren’t familiar, Waze is a method by which users on their smartphones can both view traffic and report on incidents for live, local and up-to-date information relating to diving conditions.

The current Windows Phone beta for Waze, which is in private testing, is expected to continue development and release in the coming weeks. Though if Waze becomes a Google property, it remains to be seen if development will continue (Google feels that the smaller market reach for Windows Phone is not incentive for investment in their services).

Interestingly, Microsoft was reportedly an early investor in Waze back in 2009, helping the fledgling start-up with building capital. Microsoft (or Nokia and their HERE services) were not part of the latest round of negotiations, which means either they did not see the value in the company, had alternatives or were simply caught off guard.

Who do you think would have benefitted most from a Waze purchase? Google, Microsoft-Nokia or Apple? Will this change your stance on using the service when it comes out? Let us know in comments.

Source: Globe; Thanks, Ori, for the tip!

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Ugh, i hope its just a rumour like whatsapp
  • Evidently this has moved beyond rumored and the deal is being finalized. I'd expect an official announcement as early as tomorrow.
  • We will never see a Windows Phone release if this happens.
  • I disagree. Acquisitions can take 6-12 months to go through and transition. This release for Windows Phone is in late beta testing, meaning they've already sunk financial resources into it. Google would not have the power to halt its release so late in the game. The question is for later support, though I believe Waze will continue to operate as a stand alone property for some time until Google can integrate them (if they chose).
  • I hope you're right on this. Although I had never heard of this app, I truly believe that the more decent apps on the Windows Store, the better. However, I do think that Google would interfere in its development in the future. If they don't, perhaps one day I'll see it being really used by people here in Brazil :)
  • I believe Nokia passing on this offer is a good move as Nokia has great location assets & adding live traffic & social components are natural next steps for the here platform as it continues to gain cross-platform scale. Waze's $1.3B is not worth the investment & is highly overvalued.
  • Well, there goes all hope of this app lasting after its initial release. There goes any chance of me using it.
    More user data for the Google monster.
  • i thought apple was going to buy it 
  • Not enough Jews
  • lol thats rich!
  • Who cares my gps in my car has built in live traffic alerts and also my wp gps also has traffic alerts
  • Well, anyone who cares about who has the better mapping service should. Though you may not use it, if Google gets their hands on Waze it will only strengthen the company, putting Microsoft-Nokia in a potentially weaker position.
  • like I said who cares has I have 3rd party GPS apps for my wp that works great with live traffic built in. Yes I heard of waze and again no need it since my Gps works great.
  • Well good for you... You ask who cares? All the people who don't have that.
  • Well than go buy the app if you don't have it? Hahaha
  • Your 3rd party GPS apps dosn't tell you the cops are setting around the corner. Waze does.
  • The only feature I missed from other GPS apps is those one. you can see if there is a police road block. report from other user is really helpful.
  • Maybe you should try other 3rd party GPS apps for wp and you will see this waze is not worth getting it. I been using my third party GPS and it's been giving me lived traffic alerts accurate everytime.
  • Hi. The world of technology is bigger than you or what you use. Sincerely, Reality Check. PS I locked your account for unsavory language and borderline racist posts. One more click and I'll wipe your entire posting history. Enjoy!
  • Lol!
  • slow clap
  • I don't agree with ihavewp8, but think locking his acccount is a bit too harsh.
  • I agree with you cnshenj..
    Even I disagree ihavewp8.. But locking is very harsh. It should be open discussion forum. Daniel, am I wrong here?
  • It's okay I got banned permanently but somehow able to use my account on wpcentral app only to comment. I never got a warning nor explanation as to why I got banned. Ever since the incident I had to wonder who in the right mind is running the show...
  • You were given a warning before you received the infraction that got you banned. And you get a message as a part of that as well.
  • Guys, you didn't see the comments I deleted--one included "I don't buy Jewish apps" and some other harsh things. I don't ban people for being jerks per se, but when you cross into anti-semitism and other slurs, I take issue.
  • Good on you Daniel, it is nice to see pro-active people like yourself preventing the comments section becoming a slurring match. I've seen countless sites where the comments section has become filled irrelevant and distasteful comments to put it lightly.
  • Someone woke up in the wrong side of the bed. :-P
  • I agree. Who cares.
  • Wauwza. I thought one million was already too much for an app (instagram)
  • Facebook paid one billion for Instagram.
  • Technically, a lot less than that as a lot of it was in stock in the company, which has lost considerable value since the purchase.
  • So, they paid more than a million but les than a billion? Do you know the exact value of the company btw? :P
  • I believe the last estimate of what the deal is worth was ~$650-700 million. Obviously that's still considerable, but also a lot less than $1B.
  • I think I read it on Vanity Fair..Instagram founders interview..
    It was $ 300 mil cash..and $ 700 mil in stock !!!
  •  I'm not even sure why Google would need to buy them, to be honest.  They already get background data collection from nearly everyone with a smartphone (anyone running Google Maps, anyway) which should allow them to figure out the same type of data, and it would be simple for them to add a "report traffic incident" button to their existing apps.  I guess maybe they are just interested in the aggregation technology, but isn't that already supposed to be Google's bread and butter in the first place?
  • They just don't want competition or destroy competition. I just checked the newer google map and I gotta say it is awesome. Yes they might not have needed waze but google could not just sit and see companies like Facebook buy to leverage their product. Microsoft and Nokia better bring their A game here.
  • Yep, this.
  • There's probably patents they want to acquire.
  • Back even in the WinMo days, Waze app had a function where you could add a missing road by "creating" one as you traveled. Waze maps were created by app users. Maybe there are some patents there that Google wants for their map edit feature. I have contributed several times because Google maps are the only ones available in Pakistan. No Bing or Here maps in Pakistan.
  • Monopoly.
  • Outside of the fact that this may negatively affect the future of the Windows Phone app release, this is a smart purchase for Google.
    I always found their traffic data lacking. Now they will have the best.
  • And how do you figure this is the "best"?
  • Yet another company google sucks up so it can find out even more about you, to sell that information on....
    Google keeps saying that WP is such a small userbase and it won't invest any time in it, yet it threw it's toys out the pram when Microsoft weren't displaying ads in the Youtube app. If WP is really the 'small fish' they make out, they wouldn't of cared!
    I hate when one company has the monopoly on so many things =/
  • Yes, Microsoft certainly has monopoly power in many areas and isn't afraid to abuse it.  Oh, you were talking about Google!  My bad...
  • Microsoft isn't even close to being as bad as google
  • No, but they were back in the heyday. Google is in their teenager years--getting a bit cocky, arrogant. Microsoft is the more wise adult now, partially because they were slapped around so heavily by the DOJ years ago. 
  • That's the weird thing to me. The DOJ and EU seem to be turning a blind eye to everything Google's doing that, regardless of how similar it is to what MS did. Forcing installing Chrome browser without a choice on Chrome OS anyone?
  • ms releases software on Google and ios sometimes even faster than there own os, I think that they Microsoft just isn't as petty as Google is, Google made most of it cash in the beginning off Microsoft, now they forget, the Google of old would pass on an opportunity to advertise on any platform but now they got the big head. I haven't gotten rid of my gmail yet but if they don't care about me why should i care about them and use there products.
  • The majority of their money is still coming from PS users I would imagine.
  • Google does not sell any of your info. They use it for their own use.
  • gosh. now we'll get 0 update on the WP version and we'll be spied on incessantly by Google and they'll have ads everywhere we go too! sad to see this one go but i'm not downloading it. google sucks.
  • Yep I was going to give it a try but no
  • I was interested in this app until now. I try to avoid Google as much as possible.
  • Same here. This is a real bummer.
  • What is the WAZE WP8 app?
  • Hate Google!!!
  • Never saw the attraction of this app in the first place, Navigon has traffic now and uses the best map data, Navteq. So no big loss.
  • Yeah, I'm pretty sure that MS/Nokia has this covered through Navteq, didn't Nokia claim that they had 90% of the market for navigation sold with cars?
  • Probably do, Navteq powers a lot of gps solutions but people don't know it. Most important thing to me is updated maps and a good routing algorithm to get me where I'm going, everything else is a bonus.
  • I see lots of people never USED Waze at all. To dismiss it as a basic GPS app with traffic data is doing it a HUGE disservice. There is a reason why Google is reportedly paying over $1B for it!
    I've used Waze alot, and it's really the only app I miss on Windows Phone. So, what do I do? I use my Symbian phone instead since it still works fine.
  • I'm hoping it's not true, for the sake of the WPers that want it.
  • Another good service gobbled by google.... Am I the only one feeling Scroogled!
  • +1
  • I know Nokia Drive - is still in BETA stage,
    will we have some PLEASANT SUPRISE when it finally goes SHOWTIME LIVE"?
    maybe they are still testing some new features which NONE of the present GPS Maps are capable of doing?
    ANYONE has any idea / thoughts ? or rumors?
    possible for Nokia Drive / Maps to have "similar functions" as WAZE -
    even in OFFLINE MODE ? that would SWEET
    yes, i am disappointed that MS/Nokia didnt buy WAZE but maybe , just maybe they really didnt see the value in it and has some hidden gems in their sleeves... keep fingers cross!
    any thoughts?
  • Why, and how are you disappointed? Did you even know it was on sale to begin with??
    Not to give MS anymore credit than they deserve, but I'm sure they (and facebook) saw a legitimate business reason not to do this. And lets not forget that MS has invested in Waze in the past. Maybe it hasn't amounted to much on the WP end yet, but from a business standpoint this might tell you something (like stop panicking)
  • Probably see waze app pulled, we all know how much google hates windows phones.
  • Nokia is investing a lot in here, they certainly have something up their sleeves...
  • I was hoping Facebook would buy Waze... with FB being 1.1 billion members strong...
    Waze would make Google stronger ... But is Waze a threat to Nokia Drive?
  • Google is a fantastic resource but it's getting too big just like ms a decade ago. Hopefully there will always be a new David to slay the giant. Personally I prefer to be off grid but even if I go back to sw radio I am only anonymous if I don't make noise
  • Waze is by far the best real-time traffic solution I have ever seen. This is my biggest hope for Windows Phone. I just hope Google doesn't ruin it for us.
  • I agree. :(
  • Now we will lose waze support
  • Was interested in trying it, but I don't use Google services except YouTube.
  • I used Waze a lot when I had a Droid 2. It wasn't only because of traffic it was the social aspect of it and accurate real time information. Waze users would notify if their was a cop near by, or if there was construction ahead, and if their was accident or stalled car on the freeway the Waze users would sometimes post what lane and if they didn't you can ask the poster what lane it was to move accordingly. Some users even post pictures of what's ahead. I don't think any other GPS does that and for free. Another reason Waze learned my preferred route and would re-direct me if necessary. You don't even have to join you can report anonymously if you wanted to. You can get an idea of what information is posted from their live map.
  • I see this as a problem, considering the laws in each state about driving and texting especially the very strict (& a bit outrageous) laws for the state of California in regards to hands free and mounted handsets being used and placed in the car. Now with this Waze app, everyone driving around trying inform others of accidents, police, construction and etc. is just encouraging more and more people to interact with there phones while driving 75 mph down an interstate. It doesn't help the "Don't Text and Drive" campaign at all.
  • True about the laws and such. There of course is the usually warning it gives if you try to access it while driving. It does have speech recognition and hands free operation.  But when car pooling in L.A. usually one of the passengers is updating. of course this isn't always the case. Most of the warnings are pre-set icons so you don't really have to text, but again that still a distraction.
  • I do not have traffic as a free option on my 521. I used waze on Android and was looking forward to it. No matter what happens, I will not be using it now. I gave up Android because I refuse to give Google my data.
  • I've never understood how people report live information like what cop is where. The driver is either driving unsafely or the information is delayed until the driver has time to update the info.
    This is clearly more of a defensive move from Google. It strengthens their position as Waze is one of the top map solutions that comes with a ton of data points. This keeps it out of the hands of Apple and Facebook which Google is targeting with their social platform Hangouts.
    Like Daniel said this should not affect the release of Waze for Windows Phone and by the time the acquisition finishes there should be quite a few more Windows Phone in the wild that renders any dispute about "small market" Google makes going forward laughable. You just have to take the fight to Google in a very public manner and force their hand.
  • Microsoft sitll has 10% of Waze, so at least they'll make some money
  • Hope it still releases I was looking forward to this. I don't mind if Google wants my info :]
  • This SUCKS! This app will be pulled from the Windows market or crippled before the ink dries.  Guaranteed.
  • But... it's not even in the marketplace yet. 
  • NOOOOOOOOIOO!!!!! I bet this is just to can the Window Phone app...
  • No doubt google is shady,  and I do believe they have it out for MS, and WP as a whole. But 1.3 BILLION to screw WP oout of ONE app is a wee-bit ludacris. Might be one of their driving forces, but not THE driving force.
  • I wish apple or Microsoft bought them.
  • Crap! If Google buys Waze then we never gonna see an app for WP8!
    After their last behaviour on other apps, included the YouTube app that MS developed, i have no hope for Google to play the game to benefit WP-users!
  • Brutal
  • Are you sure its currently being beta tested? I am I the private beta and haven't gotten the actual download yet.
  • We have inrix traffic alerts isn't that basically the same thing? Why nit integrate that with here maps
  • No! It is most certainly not the same thing as Inrix. Waze uses crowd sourced data whereas Inrix in comparison is an infant's toy.
  • I've been waiting for this app since I switched and got accepted into the Beta. I really hope Google doesn't ruin it.
  • If Google owns I'll never use it. I don't do anything Google.
  • Me either.
  • Inrix is nowhere near as good as Waze.
  • Why Google buy this? It's a type of bad thing for me!
  • If Google bought Waze, and waze released the WP version, Google still can pull it from the store.
  • "diving conditions" ??
  • Microsoft-Nokia can still get it. Just offer 1.4B. I think they would benefit from the company the most.
  • And you really think it's worth that much money??