Friday, January 4, 2013

Rumor Mill: Apple acquiring Waze to fortify Maps for iOS

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is in advanced negotiations to acquire crowdsourced location services firm Waze, a move to improve its much-criticized Apple Maps platform, TechCrunch reports.
Citing sources close to the talks, the report states Waze carries a $750 million price tag despite generating less than $1 million in revenues in 2012, primarily from advertising efforts. So far, Apple has offered $400 million and another $100 million in incentives. Both companies declined to comment on the report.
Waze is one of several companies providing mapping and navigation data to Apple Maps, released last year in association with the revamped iOS 6 as a replacement for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Maps. Consumers have been harshly critical of Apple Maps, identifying dozens of inaccuracies, and the outcry prompted a public apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook, who suggested that users "should consider downloading native mapping applications like Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing, Waze or MapQuest" while Apple works to overhaul the platform.

In the weeks following Cook's shout-out, Waze increased its market share to 10 percent of U.S. iPhone users from 7 percent, according to a study from mobile data compression firm Onavo. Last fall, Waze told Bloomberg Businessweek that downloads surged 25 percent in the wake of Apple Maps' Sept. 19 launch to 100,000 a day.
The Waze acquisition rumors follow a few weeks after The Wall Street Journal reported Apple is in discussions to integrate foursquare local data into Maps for iOS. Citing sources close to the talks, the report states Apple Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue has met with foursquare executives to explore incorporating data from local restaurants, clubs and retailers, and some onlookers have predicted that Apple would acquire foursquare outright. But while foursquare local recommendations would improve Apple Maps, acquiring Waze likely would benefit the platform to an even greater extent: Waze maps are built on data obtained from moving vehicles, offering real-time, hands-free traffic updates, and its services span the globe, bolstering Apple Maps in problem areas like Asia and the Middle East.
Apple is "putting all of our energy into making [Maps] right," Cook said in a BusinessWeek interview published last month. "We've got a huge plan to make it even better. It will get better and better over time." Cook did not divulge specifics on that plan, nor did he reveal when consumers can expect the overhauled Apple Maps to become commercially available.

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