Google is buying online mapping service Waze in a $1.03 billion deal that keeps a potentially valuable tool away from its rivals while allowing it to gain technology that could improve the accuracy and usefulness of its own popular navigation system.
The acquisition announced Tuesday ends several months of speculation as Waze flirted with potential buyers interested in its rapidly growing service. Waze blends elements of a social network into its maps to produce more precise directions and more reliable information about local traffic conditions.
Google is the leader in the field, but both Apple and Facebook would like a bigger piece of the market.
Those ambitions are likely a key reason Google scooped up Waze, said University of Notre Dame management professor Brian Proffitt, who specializes in technology issues. “If Facebook had gotten Waze, they clearly would do something in the mobile market with it,” Proffitt said. “Getting Waze is like a billion-dollar remedy to a potential headache for Google.”