Can Apple Buy a Maps Fix?


Even though Google Maps is back on the iPhone, Apple still needs to get its own Maps service up to snuff. Apple's already spent several hundred million dollars on at least three map-related acquisitions: Placebase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies. It might as well add another.

TechCrunchis reporting that the Mac maker turned map maker is potentially looking to acquire Waze, the crowd-sourced traffic and navigation service that already has 30 million users pitching in to data aggregation. This buyout rumor actually makes perfect sense. Here's why.

First off, Waze happens to fit the bill of an Apple acquisition. It is small and likely has negligible revenue currently (relative to Apple's massive top line). It also has unique technology that could be integrated into Apple products to make them better. Waze has raised $67 million in venture funding so far, so Apple could probably pick it up for well under $500 million, which is typically the upper limit of how much it likes to spend on acquisitions.

When CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized to users over Maps criticism, he specifically pointed to alternatives to use as Apple works on improving its own. That included services from key rivals like Microsoft Bing, AOL's Mapquest, Google, and Nokia . At the time, Google and Nokia only had web apps available, but both have since launched native iOS apps.

Notably, Cook also recommended users give Waze a try. That meant that the small start-up was bumping mapping elbows with tech titans, and recognition from Apple isn't to be squandered. Waze is also one of Apple's current mapping partners for data, as it's found in Apple's acknowledgements of map data sources.

Acquiring Waze and stitching it into Apple Maps wouldn't be a magical panacea, but its real-time traffic and location data would definitely be a step in the right direction.

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