Facebook may be driving deal for Waze mobile app

Facebook looking to buy crowd-sourced traffic, mapping app, report says

Facebook reportedly is in talks to buy a popular Israeli-based crowd-sourced mapping and traffic app.

The social network is moving to pay up to $1 billion to beef up its mobile effort, according to Israeli business site Calcalist (The site is in Hebrew). While negotiations are still ongoing between the two companies, Calcalist reports that both have already signed an initial agreement to move forward with the acquisition.

Facebook declined to comment on the report and Waze did not respond to a request for comment.

Waze offers a socially based traffic and navigation app for iOS and Android. Users share real-time traffic information, including updates about construction, traffic jams, speed traps and accidents.

App users who also connect to Facebook can track friends who are driving to the same destination. "Coordinate everyone's arrival times when you pick up or meet up with friends," Waze noted on its website. "Now you're effortlessly in sync when you drive together."

Users also share information about local gas stations with the lowest prices, helping the Waze community navigate to the cheapest stations.

On April 5, Waze wrote in its company blog that executives were happy to have Facebook use the Waze logo during its Facebook Home release presentation.

"As we watched the event online, it was incredibly exciting to see our cute little Waze logo make an appearance," Waze noted. "Moreover, the Waze logo is also featured on the Facebook Home website. We are honored to receive this kind of recognition from Facebook."

For the past year, Facebook has been working to make inroads into the mobile world, which had been passing it by.

Facebook's mobile app is the most popular in the U.S. Facebook bought mobile photo-sharing site Instagram and its mobile advertising now constitutes 30% of the company's total ad revenue.

While industry analysts say Facebook hasn't achieved all it can with mobile, the company is making great strides.

Adding a crowd-sourced mobile traffic app could help the company's mobile efforts, said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research.

"Mapping is a big thing in the mobile world, and is adjacent to social," he said. "Remember, having gathered all these users, Facebook now has to keep them inside the tent.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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