US: Apple is apparently deep in negotiations to buy the online map service Waze. Sources say the Mac, iPhone and iPad maker is willing to pay upwards of USD 500 million for the company, although Waze is said to be holding out for USD 750 million.
Waze”s twist on the online map and navigation market is social networking. The company gathers map data through users as they drive, and is seen as generally more accurate than some other online map services since users are contributing information daily. In contrast, Google”s Maps relies primarily on its own cars to gather data and street view photos.
Apple found itself with a marketing black eye after the release of iOS 6 in fall 2012 when it replaced Google”s Maps for its own service — a service that suffered from accuracy issues and missing location data. Apple responded with a public apology and a promise to “throw its weight” behind improving its Maps service.
The company also recently approved Google”s own mapping app for the iPhone, which brought back features missing from Apple”s own app such as public transportation information. With Google Maps available, competition in the navigation space ramped up a little, although Waze is apparently the only navigation app that gained serious traction after Apple released its own Maps app.
Apple also already has a working relationship with Waze since the company is providing some of the location data iOS 6 users rely on.
Israeli social network helps prevent traffic accidents
Researchers from the social networks IT security group at Ben Gurion University of the Negev showed that GPS navigation systems, especially location-based social networks such as the application by Israel”s Waze Ltd., have strongly improved drivers’ orientation and helped prevent traffic accidents.
Unlike a traditional navigational GPS system, Waze also provides drivers with information about road traffic, police patrolling and various road hazards. The application functions like a social network because its members are the ones who supply this information to each other. Currently, 28 million registered members worldwide use Waze, including 4 million in Israel, reported Globes.
The study, which was based on Waze data, identified and mapped the location of traffic accidents in Israel on a daily basis. Researchers found via Google Earth that 75 per cent of traffic accident-prone locations were intersections. They also found that police arrive on the scene of an accident after an average of 20 minutes, and sometimes up to 40 minutes, from the moment when the accident is first reported.