Google reportedly close to buying mapping startup Waze for as much as $1.3 billion

wazeSpeculation about a Google takeover of mapping and navigation company Waze has been swirling around for a while now, with two new reports claiming it won’t be too long before the Web giant announces that an acquisition deal has been struck.

Financial publication Globes, which, like Waze, is based in Israel, reported Sunday that Google is set to pay $1.3 billion for the startup. Bloomberg, which says the deal could be announced as early as Monday, puts the figure a little lower at $1.1 billion.

At the end of last month it was suggested $1 billion was set to change hands, with the the weekend’s higher figures suggesting other Internet giants may have been hoping to get their hands on the company, pushing its price tag even higher.

Indeed, last year it was reported that Apple was looking at the possibility of buying Waze, while more recently Facebook was also said to be interested.

Globes said that part of the expected deal involves allowing Waze workers to remain in Israel, a condition Facebook was apparently not happy with, though one Google appears to have accepted.

Waze’s popular iOS and Android app pulls together community-generated data sent from drivers’ smartphones and uses it to provide travel updates and suggest the best routes according to road conditions at the time.

It also incorporates a social element to make it easy for “commuting buddies” to stay in touch with each other and share information.

Google’s motives for acquiring Waze appear to be twofold – to use its technology to improve its own mapping services at the same time as removing it from the marketplace to prevent rivals from snapping it up.

The free app, which generates revenue through location-based ads, currently has around 47 million active users and has managed to more than double its user base in the last 12 months alone.

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