Google Leaves Facebook and Apple Dazed and Confused


Well, that was anticlimactic.

A month after Facebook was reportedly making a $1 billion offer for Waze -- and several months after Applepraised Waze as a near-term fix to its Apple Maps fiasco before being mentioned in buyout chatter itself -- Google whisked away the fast-growing app maker.

Terms of the deal aren't being made public, though it's widely believed to be a little north of $1 billion.

The potential bidding war that could've brewed failed to materialize. Google's announcement last night claims that it has closed the acquisition.

It's a bit of a surprise that this all went down so quickly because Apple and Facebook had plenty to gain with Waze.

For those unfamiliar with Waze, it's a fast-growing traffic and navigation app that uses crowdsourcing to offer updated traffic and mapping information. Is there a lane closure because of an accident? Have cops set up a speed trap on the highway? Is a road construction project slowing down vehicles?

Waze has 47 million active users worldwide submitting real-time information to flesh out the roadways. Google's benefit is clear. It already has the popular Google Maps that offers rudimentary traffic details, and now it has a platform that gets smarter with every download.

Google can also monetize its new purchase by pinpointing local ads and deals to where people are at while using Waze.

Apple could've certainly used it. Apple Maps remains a laughingstock when pitted against Google Maps, and it may not be a coincidence that Apple shares have lost a third of their value since the poorly executed Apple Maps rollout late last year. Waze could've made Apple Maps better than Google Maps at something.

Facebook has been held back by concerns that it won't be able to monetize mobile consumption as well as desktop usage, and Waze is an app that is widely consumed on mobile devices as folks travel. If Waze could be integrated into Facebook, the service's more than a billion active users would find even fewer reasons to leave.

All three companies had great reasons to buy Waze, and that makes the eventual victor even more of a winner. Google's purchase keeps it out of control of two companies that would've been more fierce as competitors with Waze.

Well played, Google. Take your victory lap. Use Waze to make sure that there aren't any pileups or speed traps along the way.

It's just another round in this tech battle
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