Google buys social mapping company Waze

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Yesterday Waze announced that it has been bought by Google. The deal had been rumoured for a week or two before the announcement, with lots of speculation as to why the big G would want more mapping data.

It turns out that the acquisition is a defensive move by Google: it bought Waze so that Apple and other companies couldn’t, thereby retaining dominance in mobile mapping. Navigation, it turns out, is hot property, and great data is what makes or breaks your popularity. And there is no better data than Waze, which relies on its users to build maps of the world. Just by using the application users are contributing to the data, including the average speeds attainable on roads, locations of roads and points of interest, as well as traffic data.

Last year it was announced that Waze traffic data is used by Apple for its Maps application, introduced in iOS 6. It’s unclear how this will be affected in the future, but the company will continue operating as a standalone entity in the mean time.

Waze was founded in 2008, and at last count has more than 20-million users. The free application can be downloaded for Android, iOS, Symbian, and BlackBerry phones. According to the New York Times Google paid $1.03-billion for the company.

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Christo van Gemert

Christo van Gemert

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.

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