Google Inc. is considering purchasing Waze, an Israeli mapping start-up that has held discussions with several large technology companies, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.
Google's discussions with Waze, which sources said remained fluid and could change in tenor at any time, come amid reports Facebook is willing to pay $1 billion for the crowd-sourced service, which relies on information provided by its 47 million members to craft its mobile-oriented maps.
By buying Waze, the Internet search giant would prevent the company from falling into the hands of Facebook, which is delving deeper into mobile technology as it tries to grow its user base.
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 for the product to be tailored and personalized for users.
"Whoever holds the mapping data is going to be a hot commodity," said Brian Proffitt
, author of several books on mobile technology and an adjunct instructor of management in the University of Notre Dame."As larger vendors acquire mapping data, businesses and consumers will discover that it's more difficult to gain free access and correct errors."
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