Reports: Google close to landing Waze for $1.3B

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is finalizing an agreement to acquire crowdsourced location services firm Waze for $1.3 billion, Israeli newspaper Globes reports. The Wall Street Journal corroborates the deal, which sources said could be formally announced as soon as this week. Representatives for Google and Waze declined to comment.

The Waze application assembles turn-by-turn GPS navigation, real-time traffic updates and social networking components to improve drivers' daily commute, with all map and traffic information originating via on-the-go users who keep the solution open on their mobile device. Motorists can also contribute reports on accidents, police traps and related hazards. Close to 50 million drivers now use Waze across operating systems including Google's Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.

Bloomberg first reported on Google's interest in Waze late last month; Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) also explored acquiring Waze but ultimately scrapped those plans, due in part to disagreements over whether to keep Waze in Israel or relocate the business to the U.S. Globes notes Google has already made acquisitions in Israel, and it maintains an office there, as opposed to Facebook, which has closed most of the startups it has acquired, including Israeli-based feature phone interface developer Snaptu and facial recognition specialist Face.com.

One person familiar with the deal told The Wall Street Journal that Waze may remain available as a standalone app, with its most valuable data also incorporated into Google's own maps platform. Information from Google Maps may also integrate with the Waze app, the source added. Waze could also bolster Google's efforts to personalize mapping services through its Google+ social networking initiative, bringing with it a pre-existing network of friends who connect to each other through the app.

Adding Waze would not only improve and expand Google Maps but could also deliver a major blow to the much-maligned Apple Maps, introduced last year. Apple Maps relies in part on information sourced from Waze and other location services providers: It is not clear how a Google deal for Waze would affect Waze's data licensing relationships with Apple and other partners.

Earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that Apple was in advanced negotiations to acquire Waze, but the publication later posted a follow-up article stating the deal was not happening, an assertion backed by other media outlets. A source familiar with Apple's thinking told CNet the rumors were "fabricated." Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed "We did not" make a bid for Waze.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal article
- read this Globes article

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