Apple: To Waze or not to Waze?


TechCrunch appeared to have a pretty good scoop yesterday when it reported that Apple might be looking to acquire Waze for roughly $500. The tie-up would make sense on multiple levels: Waze’s crowdsourced/GPS navigation offering is one of the hottest apps on the market, and Apple’s difficulties with its in-house mapping software is well-documented.

But TechCrunch today claims the deal has hit a roadblock, although the blog doesn’t spell out what that roadblock may be. That snag could be a simple matter of money — reports indicate Waze’s price tag is closer to $750 — but there are some other important reasons the two aren’t a great fit. Waze has great traction among Android users as well as iPhone owners, so it would lose substantial value in exclusively going iOS. And Apple already uses some Waze data for its own mapping offering, indicating it may be more inclined to license Waze’s stuff rather than buy the company outright.

Just as importantly, Rene Ritchie of iMore points out that the acquisition probably wouldn’t be a quick fix for Apple’s mapping woes anyway because Waze doesn’t have some of the basic mapping assets Apple needs. Rebranding Waze and using it to replace its own mapping app would be a huge headache for Apple, and integrating Waze’s features and data with iOS 6 Maps would also be a costly, time-consuming proposition. A deal may happen here eventually, but the only way Apple can address its mapping problems quickly is with a blockbuster acquisition of a player like Nokia or TomTom — and if that hasn’t happened yet, I don’t think it will.

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