Since the introduction of the Original Motorola Droid for Verizon Wireless in the fall of 2009, one of the biggest selling points for the handset and the operating system as a whole was the turn by turn directions which were provided by Google Maps. Now here we are almost four years later and even with all of the advancements in Android as well as mobile technology in general, the Google Maps application still reigns supreme.
Mapping and navigation technology isn't something that should be taken for granted either. With more people ditching their stand alone GPS modules in favor of a smartphone every day, having a service that is less than reliable can cause huge problems for a manufacturer's brand recognition. Just ask Apple, a company that opted for their own navigation system only to see it fail miserably eliciting not only criticism but the worst kind of outrage where customers were calling for it to be replaced by their chief rival's app.
Google's stranglehold on maps makes a company like Waze a very desirable one. Waze, if you weren't aware, is a community based traffic and navigation app. Users of the app are encouraged to "join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute."
Of course striking while the iron is hot is exactly what any startup company needs to do and now we are hearing rumors of billion dollar bids for the company by all of the heavy hitters including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook. According to a report in Bloomberg:
Waze is fielding expressions of interest from multiple parties and is seeking more than $1 billion, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The Palo Alto, California-based startup might also remain independent, instead seeking to raise a round of venture capital financing, the people said.
The motives of the companies that appear interested in Waze shouldn't be hard to figure out. You have to think that Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft are all looking to either improve existing services or get their foot in the navigation door, while of course Google being the top dog in the field may try to incorporate some of the features of Waze, but the main focus there is to likely remain the leader in the field by keeping the service away from competitors.
Anyone out there using Waze? What features of the service if any would you like to see in Google Maps?