Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Is Apple taking a quick way to a Maps fix, with a Waze deal?

When Apple's iOS 6 Maps app was discovered to be half-baked, not only did Apple CEO Tim Cook issue a public apology, he listed a number of alternatives. Among those was Waze, and that app was the only one to gain significant market share before Google Maps entered the App Store.

With that factoid in place, is it surprising that Apple is reportedly looking into acquiring Waze? A report issued on Wednesday points straight to a possible deal.

No, it shouldn't be surprising.

Also notably, Apple doesn't hold a grudge. Or perhaps it knows prescience when it sees it. Before the official release of Apple Maps, Waze's CEO Noam Bardin warned that it was likely to a a mess, which is exactly what it turned out to be.
Apple went out and partnered with the weakest player. They're now coming out with the lowest, weakest data set and they're competing against Google, which has the highest data set.

What's going to happen with the Apple maps, is that you're literally not going to find things ... When you do find them, they might be in the wrong place or position geographically. And if you do have it, the route to it may not be the optimal route.
All of those predictions turned about to be true, including travelers winding up in the middle of Murray Sunset National Park, which has no water, instead of the city of Mildura, approximately 70km (43.5 miles) away.

What of the rumors of Apple acquiring Foursquare, which arose after Apple SVP Eddy Cue sent a single tweet which displayed a Foursquare check-in at Apple’s HQ. Meanwhile, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley was spending a week in San Francisco. It was hard to say what this all meant, if anything, but it started the rumor mill.

A deal with Apple makes a lot of sense for Waze, as the idea of a tiny app developer competing against both Google and Apple (eventually Apple will get things correct, even if it takes years) must be daunting for Bardin.

Meanwhile, while Apple will eventually get things right, the acquisition of Waze would mean a quick route (pun intended) to correction, though obviously Waze's gaming measures (points earned through various functions) and somewhat snarky UI would probably need some spiffing up, too.

However, the deal has a Waze (pun intended) to go. An unnamed source confirmed that while negotiations are advanced, Waze wants a $750 million payday, while Apple is said to be willing to cough up $400 million along with $100 millon in incentives.

Notably, Waze had less than $1M in revenue in 2012, primarily from ads.

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