The release of iOS 6 Maps caused hoopla for Apple and since then, the company has been trying to improve its maps app as quickly as possible. Today, TechCrunch reports that Apple may be interested in acquiring Waze, the popular social turn-by-turn navigation company. The application is available on iOS for free and is marketed by the company as a “fun, community-based traffic & navigation app.” It claims that more than 30 million people are using the service.
Because Waze maps are built on the location of moving cars, it’s far more accurate than check-in apps. Outside of Google’s project to map cities with Streetview cars – something which has taken years to complete – and the real-world mapping undertaken by volunteers on the Open Streetmaps open source project, there has been little to match Waze’s approach. Waze turned mapping into not only a game, but also a way for drivers to be social, reporting road obstacles, traffic and police traps. It is properly useful.
It would also cost Apple northwards of $500M+ to buy Foursquare (which has raised $71 million is known to be raising another round), and gain, what? The location of restaurants, bars and airports? Given Waze has raised $67 million, Apple could acquire far better mapping data and a real driving app.
Waze also allows users to share real-time information on traffic congestion, gas prices, accidents, speed traps and checkpoints, and more. Some data is automatically reported by simply having the iPhone application open while driving.
Both companies declined to comment on the rumor. I believe, if Apple acquires Waze, it will be significant gain for the company because of the mapping data Waze has to offer.