Google Close to Buying Israeli Mapping Start-Up Waze: Report

Google close to buying Israeli mapping start-up waze
Paul Sakuma/APIn this March 15, 2012 photo, Ben Gleitzman waves his hand over a traffic and navigation app called Waze on his Apple iPhone in a Menlo Park, Calif., parking lot during a demonstration showing traffic conditions on the display. Thousands of enthusiasts traveling the world using little more than GPS-equipped smartphones are helping Waze and other services to build in-depth maps of cities and countries around the world. Consumers, companies and even disaster relief organizations have come to rely on such crowd-sourced maps and the ability to update them almost instantaneously.

JERUSALEM - Google (GOOG) is close to buying Waze for $1.3 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported on Sunday, potentially trumping rival offers for the Israeli mapping start-up.

The report on the website of financial newspaper Globes did not cite sources or provide further details.

Last month sources told Reuters the Internet search giant was in talks to acquire Waze, while a second Israeli newspaper reported Facebook (FB) was willing to pay up to $1 billion for the firm.

Facebook is delving deeper into mobile technology as it tries to expand its user base.

Waze is a crowd-sourced, mobile-oriented navigation device for drivers that relies on information provided by its 47 million members to populate its maps.

Mapping services are among the five most-used applications on smartphones and are crucial to engaging and retaining mobile users. The key advantage of owning, rather than licensing, a mapping service is that it allows the product to be personalized for users.

Officials at Waze were not reachable for immediate comment.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by John Stonestreet)