Google and Waze integration may have to wait thanks to the FTC
June saw the end of what may turn out to be only the first part of the Waze saga. The playful social navigation app was privy to a three horse race between the tech behemoths; Apple, Facebook and Google.
All three have competing interests in both mapping and location. Apple and Google last year publicly split their long standing map tie up and both Google and Facebook have elements of location based services of their respective social networks.
The search giant Google, managed to wrap up the deal for a colossal $1.1 billion dollars. Not bad for the Israeli startup with 45 million users across 190 countries.
However, not all is rosey with the new acquisition in to the Google family. According to The Wall Street Journal, Google has confirmed that the FTC are investigating claims that they have violated antitrust laws.
While it is reportedly unlikely that the FTC will ask Google and Waze to reverse the deal, they may have asked Google to delay any integration of their services with their new “toy”. However, if sufficient evidence is found that the new acquisition could hurt competition in the mapping sector, a breaking up order could be given. For that to happen the FTC would have to show that Waze was bought to cease the liklihood they would one day be in direct competition with Google or that the purchase was made to keep Waze from competitors such as Facebook and Apple
Interestingly, Apple and Google seem to be splitting wherever possible – Bing being the reported new default in iOS7, the YouTube app being removed from the default app list in iOS6 and Google Maps integration across the iOS platform. Obtaining Waze reties the relationship between Google and Apple, with the latter purchasing data from Waze.
In terms of integration, Google has stated that they intend to keep Waze separate from the core Google services. Instead Google intend to use the data gathered to supliment their already popular maps service with real time user generated traffic information. They also plan to add some of the Google maps technology to enhance the Waze app experience.
However, this is likely to have to wait until Google has the all clear from the FTC. I’m intrigued to see if and how the Waze data disseminates across other Google services. With the search engines move towards contextually aware results based on user preferences, history, location and time of day it’s not beyond the realms of posibility that results could be returned with a further enrichment of data – which will take you the longest to drive to given the current traffic.