Apple to bolster Maps with $500 million Waze traffic app buyout?

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apple-maps.pngApple are said to be in talks with social-navigation app Waze to agree upon a potential buyout.

TechCrunch are reporting that Apple are looking to acquire Waze for $500 million ($400 million outright and an additional $100 million based on performance), but that Waze is holding out for a bigger $750 million deal.

Waze mixes navigation and traffic updates with crowd-sourced content from its growing 30 million userbase. An Israeli company founded in 2008, Waze delivers up-to-the-minute traffic and accident reports by relying on users to share on-the-road information with each other, highlighting accidents, tailbacks, speed cameras and local points of interest through the app.

The appeal for Apple is obvious; the Cupertino company suffered at the hands of the tech press following the lacklustre launch of their own Apple Maps service in iOS 6, which was littered with inaccurate mapping information and warped satellite imagery when it replaced Google Maps as the default mapping service for Apple mobile devices. It lead to a public apology by CEO Tim Cook as well as the high-profile departure of ex-iOS head honcho Scott Forstall, who was seen as responsible for the service’s failings.
Thumbnail image for image001.pngWaze has the potential to go some ways towards improving the service, as well as offering social elements missing from Google’s rival mapping service. However, the Waze app is currently available for all major smartphone platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and Symbian, as well as iOS. The future of the app on other platforms would become uncertain if bought outright by Apple, and with the service working best when accessed by as many people sharing road data as possible, the accuracy of Waze may itself be undermined if tied to solely Apple iOS users.

Apple are so troubled by their Maps app’s failings that there has even been talk that they may buy out in-car navigation specialists TomTom, whose own fortunes have suffered in the wake of improved smartphone mapping solutions. Analyst Hans Slob of Rabobank International last month said that he felt there was a 30% chance of Apple offering to buy TomTom and their respective technologies and services.

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Gerald Lynch